Speech Minister Bruins Slot at the UN Security Council open debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

Speech by Hanke Bruins Slot, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, at the UN Security Council quarterly open debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, 24 October 2023.

The spoken word applies.

Thank you, Mr President,

I thank the Secretary-General for his briefing.

Mr President,

On 7 October, the world witnessed a horrific terrorist attack on Israel. The horrendous violence carried out by Hamas was not aimed at military targets. Rather, it was an attempt to destroy people’s souls. By taking hostages and, murdering civilians, and this threat from Hamas is far from over.

In this context we should all stand united: by supporting Israel. And its right to self-defence against the terror threat of Hamas.

As we’ve said before: the use of force in self-defence must be necessary and proportionate. And international humanitarian law must be respected. By all parties. 

This means that every possible measure to protect civilians must be taken. That humanitarian workers must be able to do their job safely and unhindered. And that UN premises and personnel remain safe from harm. All of this requires restraint on the part of Israel in the use of force.

Mr President, the Kingdom of the Netherlands shares the concerns voiced by so many today. The situation for civilians in Gaza is catastrophic. They are in dire need of aid. We cannot afford to lose more time.

So far, the first convoys have entered Gaza. We need a sustained flow of humanitarian aid of all basis needs. And much more is needed, including fuel. Water supplies need to be restored immediately. Humanitarian pauses are crucial to allow much-needed aid to get through. And a permanent humanitarian corridor is the only way to prevent the situation getting much worse.

The Netherlands will step up its humanitarian response. We’ve committed an additional 10 million euros for immediate humanitarian relief; 8 million euros of which is for UNWRA. This funding aims to improve the living conditions for Palestinian citizens, including mental health and psychosocial support.

We are also extremely concerned about the conflict spreading beyond the borders of Israel and Gaza.  And we call on all concerned to prevent this from happening. We also urge all parties to do their utmost to prevent further escalation in the West Bank.

In this context, we will continue with our development aid for stability. The Palestinian Authority fulfils an important role within their power in preventing a further deterioration and deserves our strong support. Settler violence is worsening an already tense situation. This must stop.

Let me conclude, Mr President, by saying that our thoughts and prayers are with all the victims and the hostages that need to be released immediately and unconditionally.

When the UN was created in the aftermath of the Second World War, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was one of the first major crises calling for urgent attention. Today, more than 75 years later, the need to find a solution to this conflict is more pressing and crucial than ever.

The Netherlands calls on this Council to provide the leadership required to manage this crisis, contain it and provide perspective on sustainable peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians as the only way forward. In this context I would like to thank the tireless efforts of the UN and express my gratitude to the UN staff acting on the ground.

We cannot go back to the status quo; the two-state solution is more urgently needed than ever. Because both sides need it, both sides are entitled to it, and both sides deserve it.

Thank you, Mr President.