Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 25, 2023
Thank you, Mr. President.
Colleagues, last week, I said that this Council needed to let diplomacy play out – that we needed to give Secretary-General Guterres, President Biden, and Secretary Blinken, as well as regional leaders, the chance to move progress forward. And over the past few days, we have seen the fruits of that diplomacy.
Thanks to the leadership of the United Nations, the United States, Israel, Egypt, and other countries and partners, humanitarian aid has started to reach Gaza. But much more help is needed. And the United States will continue to work with our partners to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian relief into Gaza.
This resolution will support that effort. Our text calls for the rapid expansion of aid delivery. We must do everything in our power to meet the dire humanitarian needs of Palestinians in Gaza.
Colleagues, over the past few days, we also welcomed the release of four people who were being held hostage by Hamas. We thank Qatar and Egypt for their mediation efforts, but roughly 200 people are not yet free; and we heard yesterday in this very chamber, so many families still don’t know the whereabouts or conditions of their loved ones. Parents lie awake at night wondering if they will ever see their child again.
Yesterday, I met with two of those parents – Rachel Goldberg and Jon Polin. Their 23-year-old son, Hersh, an American citizen, was seriously injured and taken hostage by Hamas. And no parent should have to experience this kind of agony and pain. It is heartbreaking. It is infuriating. And a vote for this resolution sends the message that every single hostage must be released immediately – without conditions.
Colleagues, this moment is a test for us all: for the international community and for the very Council.
The United States has worked to forge consensus around a resolution that is strong and balanced. We solicited input. We listened. We engaged with all Council members to incorporate edits, including language on humanitarian pauses and the protection of civilians fleeing conflict, and language on the importance of deconfliction mechanisms to protect UN facilities and personnel.
These are important additions to this text – ones we support and ones we should all support. Our resolution also reflects input from numerous humanitarian organizations working to save lives. The United States was not interested in putting forward a resolution just to put forward a resolution. We were determined to craft a resolution that would enjoy broad support. That would reflect the facts on the ground. That would bolster the work of the UN and the urgent, direct diplomacy that the vast majority of Council members support.
Our approach stands in stark contrast to Russia’s. Russia has put forward a text at the very last minute with zero – zero – consultation. And I’ll note that, when putting together our resolution, we gave Russia’s feedback the same consideration that we gave to other Council members.
So the bottom line is this: Russia has offered up yet another resolution in bad faith and this Council should not stand for it. Instead, we should come together around the resolution proposed by the United States – a resolution that not only includes, but also builds on, many elements of the text Brazil put forward last week.
Our resolution unequivocally condemns the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups. It affirms the right of Member States to defend themselves against the threats to peace and security posed by acts of terrorism. It urges all parties to fully respect and comply with obligations under international law. It underscores the need to protect civilians and humanitarian workers, including UN officials and medical personnel. It calls for all measures – specifically humanitarian pauses – to allow for full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access.
It stresses that Member States must take concrete steps to prevent an expansion of this conflict beyond Gaza. It underscores the need to work together to deprive Hamas of the funding and weapons it uses to spread terror.
And it makes clear that we must continue to work toward a future where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace. And this is clearly not what Hamas wants to see.
Colleagues, the United States worked exhaustively to draft a strong and balanced text – one that meets this moment – and one that we urge all Council members to vote in favor of.