UNSC High Level debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question
Hon. Mavis Nkansah-Boadu, MP
Deputy Minister for Foreign
Affairs and Regional Integration
UN Security Council Chamber
New York, November 29, 2023
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL HIGH LEVEL DEBATE THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST- THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
I will like to begin by thanking China for its leadership of the Council this month and for convening this meeting on the Middle East Peace Process at a high level, reflecting the exigencies of the moment.
Ghana thanks the Secretary-General for his statement, especially the updates on the implementation of resolution 2712 and the options to effectively monitor the implementation of the demands of the Council in the resolution. We also thank Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland for his briefing on the situation on the ground.
We have also taken note of the statements by the representatives of Israel and Palestine. Ghana appreciates the complexity and horrors of the tragedy that has unfolded in the region since 7th October, as well as the frustrations of both sides. Now however is the time to embrace the overwhelming call of the international community for reconciliation and for peace and security for the peoples of the region. The tears, suffering and deaths on both sides must end.
Over the past 54 days, the world’s focus and attention has been fixated on the Middle East and in particular Southern Israel and the Gaza strip.
The brutal and horrific attacks of Hamas and other armed actors against Israel on 7th October, the loss of 1,200 Israeli lives, and the abduction of over 200 Israeli and foreign nationals as hostages marked an escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict not seen in recent years. The Israeli military response, which has led to the reported killing of more than 14,000 Palestinians has compounded the humanitarian situation in the Gaza strip, with dire consequences.
We are saddened by the turn of events and the impact that the hostilities that have ensued has caused on both sides, especially to women and children as well as for the United Nations and other humanitarian relief workers. We reiterate our heartfelt condolences to the affected families and friends of all those whose promise of hope for the future has been ruined by the brutality of war.
We are heartened by the humanitarian pause mediated by Qatar, Egypt and the United States between the parties on 22 November, which has so far led to the release of several Palestinian prisoners and Israeli and foreign hostages. We welcome the extension of the deal for an additional two days, ending today. We appeal to Israel and Hamas to extend the humanitarian pause for repeated two-day periods, on the basis of the original arrangement which requires Hamas to also release a number of hostages. This is necessary to continue to save lives and to enable those mediating the conflict to build confidence with further mutual measures.
We note the need for additional humanitarian aid even though the deal has significantly increased the number of trucks entering Gaza through the Raffah Border crossing. The supply of food, medicines and fuel, is an important factor to prevent the population of Gaza from being pushed into an unimaginable public health catastrophe. We therefore support practical arrangements that can increase supplies through different border crossings and restore a minimum level of public health capacity.
We reiterate our demand that UNRWA facilities, including storage facilities should be separated from the conflict and strongly appeal for a positive response by donors to the flash appeals of UNRWA and OCHA. We believe that the continuing efforts of this Council to preserve lives should hinge first on how we can ensure that those not consumed by the conflict are provided support to live.
We emphasise that the protection of civilians is a cardinal responsibility of this Council which requires a strong reminder to the parties of their obligation to respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, which are non-negotiable principles that preserve our common humanity.
Events over the past few days, reminds us of the consequence of elusive peace in the Middle East in the last 75 years. As we contemplate a Gaza after tomorrow, we cannot overlook the totality of peace required in Palestine, which demands of the parties their full commitment to seek the narrow and difficult path for a renewed and constructive dialogue on a political horizon.
Ghana, like many others, does not see an alternative to the two-State solution. While the unacceptable settlement-related activities or the unending cycle of violent clashes particularly in the West Bank, or the arbitrary arrest and detention of Palestinians constitute obstacles on the way forward, they should not be hindrances too difficult to overcome for the cause of peace.
The cost of war and a deterioration in the security situation in Palestine portend greater danger for the wider Middle East region and beyond. This is a cost none of us should be willing to incur. We must therefore spare no effort deescalate the conflict and prevent its spread beyond its present confines.
In this regard, we urge all countries with moderating influence to work in concert to abate the tensions in the region. This also requires that we act to stop the exchange of fire across the Blue Line, including around the contested Shab’a Farms area as well as help the cessation of maritime seizures of Israeli owned or managed cargo ships in the Red sea and off the Aden coast. The persisting launch of drones and missiles from neighbouring countries toward Israel amid the Israeli-Hamas war is also provocative and must stop.
These incidents have among others put the lives of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) members at risk and presents a direct threat to the peace and stability of all the countries in the region. We reiterate the important stabilization role of UNIFIL and UNDOF and appeal to all parties and countries in the region to exercise extreme restraint and rein in the activities of all armed groups operating from within their territories.
Distressed by the humanitarian and security situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, particularly in the Gaza Strip where round 1.8 million people (or over 80 per cent of the population) have been displaced, with majority of them being women and children, this Council has not seen a shortage of initiatives to find consensus beyond the adoption of resolution 2712.
Like many Council members, Ghana believes that the increasing mistrust between Israel and Palestine makes it imperative for this Council to enhance its actions to support direct engagement by the parties in a manner that would enable the Palestinian people to exercise their rights to a homeland, while assuring the State of Israel its security.
Regrettably, the Middle East Quartet which had served as the unifying shepherd for the peace process has not been able to act in recent times. Cognizant of the need for a horizon, we strongly encourage the Council to consider appointing a rapporteur from among its members, in accordance with its Provisional Rules of Procedure, to unify the position of the Council on how to further proceed with the two-State solution. We must do so mindful of the need for a comprehensive and sustained effort to address the root causes of the conflict.
While we therefore regret that the Middle East region has witnessed some of the worst forms of violent clashes in recent times, the overwhelming desire around the world for peace in the region, especially in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, should galvanise us to seek some practical steps now. Tomorrow may be too late to reverse the trends of instability that are taking roots in the region.
We therefore urge renewed support by the international community for the two-State solution to achieve a just, lasting, and comprehensive solution for the Palestinian question, on the basis of the 1967 lines, with Jerusalem as a shared capital.
In closing, I renew Ghana’s commitment to support efforts towards lasting peace in the Middle East region and underscore the need for cooperation and unified action by all of us.
I thank you for your kind attention.