Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Middle East

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
May 27, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. Wennesland, for your thorough report and for all the work that your team has done to support the ceasefire efforts and to bring some calm over the situation in the past two weeks. Thank you, as well, to Mr. Lazzarini for your update and for the lifesaving work UNRWA has undertaken under very challenging circumstances. And I thank Dr. Khalidi for taking the time to share his opinion with the Council today. Thank you to Israel and the Observer State of Palestine for joining us.

I also want to start by thanking the Government of Egypt for working with us to achieve this ceasefire, as well as the Governments of Jordan and Qatar, and other partners who contributed to their offices. Quiet, intensive, relentless diplomacy at the highest levels brought a temporary end to the violence – and the United States is determined to continue that diplomacy to ensure the calm holds. That is why President Biden sent Secretary Blinken to the region – to build on this ceasefire, to thank our partners, and to foster stability and security.

That starts by recognizing the tremendous human toll of the violence. Casualties are often reduced to numbers, but behind every number is a real person – a daughter, a son, a father, a mother, a grandparent, a friend, a human being. And beyond those killed are those who were wounded – both physically, as well as psychologically. For them, we need to find a solution. Thoughts aren’t enough. We are committed to helping the recovery process. The humanitarian need is great, and this is the moment to step up and meet it.

Building on our March and April announcements of $250 million in U.S. assistance to Palestinians, Secretary Blinken recently announced more than $38 million in new assistance to support humanitarian efforts in the West Bank and Gaza. That includes nearly $33 million to UNRWA in support of its West Bank and Gaza emergency operations, and an additional $5.5 million in humanitarian assistance provided through USAID.

This lifesaving aid will support humanitarian partners, who will use it to provide food, health care, relief items, and emergency shelter to those displaced by the recent conflict. It will also provide mental health and psychosocial support for those who experienced trauma. We will work closely with the UN, the Palestinian Authority, and the other partners and not – not – direct any assistance to Hamas. Additionally, the Secretary noted our intention to work with Congress to provide $75 million more in development and economic assistance in the West Bank and Gaza over the next year. Our aid will go far, but the needs – especially in Gaza – are vast. And we call on the rest of this Council, as well as the international community, to support these efforts and offer humanitarian assistance to those most vulnerable.

And as in every humanitarian emergency, funding and access are needed in equal measure. Specifically, an effective humanitarian response requires the continued opening of the Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossings, fast-track processing of humanitarian convoys, and unimpeded movement of relief and recovery supplies into Gaza. Let us work together to protect those conditions and help those in need. In addition, we need to promote progress and economic stability in both the West Bank and Gaza, we need to strengthen the private sector, and we need to expand trade and investment.

As President Biden has said, Palestinians and Israelis deserve equally to live safely and securely; to enjoy equal measures of freedom, opportunity, and democracy; and to be treated with dignity. So, as we work with the parties and others to address the urgent needs on the ground, let’s also start thinking through how we can support better lives for both Palestinians and Israelis, and turn this fragile calm into something much more sustainable.

Thank you, Mr. President.