By Ambassador Barbara Woodward
LONDON, England – The following is a statement by ambassador Barbara Woodward at the UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East:
“The UK is shocked and deeply saddened by the destruction and the hundreds of lives that were lost and people who were killed at the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza yesterday evening. This is a devastating loss of life, and our thoughts and prayers are with those impacted.
The UK is working intensively to establish the facts. But fundamentally, hospitals are protected under international law and should not be targeted.
President, as I have said, Israel has the right, under the UN Charter, to defend itself against Hamas’ appalling terror attacks. We have also emphasised that every feasible precaution must be taken to minimise harm to civilians, and we continue to call for immediate unimpeded humanitarian access to enable essential aid, water, food and medicines to reach civilians.
Israel has itself acknowledged that it must act in accordance with international humanitarian law.
President, the UK is clear that Hamas does not speak for the Palestinian people. Humanitarian support and access must be maintained into Gaza. To support that effort we have announced a further £10M in UK humanitarian support. And we call for the opening of the Rafah crossing and guarantees of security for any foreign nationals wishing to cross, as well as for vital humanitarian aid entering.
President, we are also clear that we must avoid further escalation of any conflict in the region. That is why the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have been working urgently to engage Israeli, Palestinian and regional leaders.
“President, the UK will continue to work with partners in the international community to break the cycle of violence across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and work towards the peace and security of Israelis and Palestinians.”
The UK supports Israel’s right to self-defence in line with the UN Charter
Explanation of vote by Ambassador Barbara Woodward at the UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East.
And let me thank you for your good faith efforts to negotiate this resolution.
The draft resolution on which we have just voted rightly condemns the appalling Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel on 7 October. It also makes clear that all actions need to be taken in line with international humanitarian law. It stresses the importance of ensuring humanitarian access and protecting civilians, and emphasises this Council’s shared priority of preventing regional escalation of the conflict.
We welcome and support the draft resolution’s attempts to set out the Council’s view on these critical points.
But the draft resolution needed to be clearer on Israel’s inherent right to self-defence in line with the UN Charter after Hamas’ attacks killed over 1,400 people and took almost 200 people hostage.
The draft resolution also ignored the fact that Hamas are using innocent Palestinian civilians as human shields.
They have embedded themselves in civilian communities and made the Palestinian people their victims too. For these reasons, the United Kingdom abstained on this resolution.
My prime minister has been clear that the UK stands with Israel in the face of these atrocities. We support Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas, take back the hostages, deter further incursions, and strengthen its security for the long term.
In so doing, we will continue to call on Israel to take all feasible precautions to avoid harming Palestinian civilians and to act in line with international humanitarian law.
We will continue to work closely with Israel and our partners in the region to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. To ensure that civilians are protected and have access to food, water, medicine, and shelter. And to work towards the peace and stability promised by the Two-State Solution.