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Violence across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories must stop

Statement by Ambassador Barbara Woodward, UK Permanent Representative to the UN, at the General Assembly on the situation in the Middle East

20 May 2021

Madam President, as others in the Assembly have made clear violence across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories must stop. The United Kingdom offers our deepest condolences to the families of those civilians killed.

The United Kingdom calls for an immediate ceasefire, to prevent the further loss of life and a worsening humanitarian situation. We continue to support the ongoing UN, Egyptian and Qatari mediation efforts.

The United Kingdom unequivocally condemns the firing of rockets at civilian populations. These acts of terrorism and incitement from Hamas and other terrorist groups must permanently end.

Madam President, Israel has a legitimate right to self-defence, and the right to defend its citizens from attack. In doing so, it is vital that Israel makes every effort to avoid civilian casualties. We call on Israel to adhere to the principles of necessity and proportionality when defending its legitimate security interest. We are also concerned by reports that Hamas is again using civilian infrastructure and populations as cover for military operations.

We are gravely concerned, Madam President, by UN reports that medical installations, schools and hundreds of homes in Gaza have been destroyed or seriously damaged.

That is why, Madam President, the United Kingdom has today announced we will provide an initial £3.2 million to UNRWA's emergency flash appeal. This support will help UNRWA deliver life-saving humanitarian aid to those that need it most.

The United Kingdom also urges unimpeded entry and exit of vital humanitarian supplies and personnel, and that Hamas cease their mortar attacks on these crossings.

Madam President, I reiterate the importance of maintaining the historic Status Quo in Jerusalem. The United Kingdom strongly supports the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan's important role as custodian of the holy sites.

As my Foreign Secretary reiterated this week, the United Kingdom firmly opposes settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as demolitions and evictions of Palestinians from their homes.

Madam President, recent events highlight the urgent need to make progress towards a two-state solution: a safe and secure Israel, alongside a viable Palestinian state, based on 1967 lines, with Jerusalem as the shared capital.

Above all, Madam President, the United Kingdom will continue pushing for an end to violence and a political pathway to peace.

Thank you.

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