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Statement by President Higgins following UN Security Council motion on Gaza

Date: Mon 25th Mar, 2024 | 18:41

“The resolution which has just been passed by the United Nations Security Council, and consideration as to what a ceasefire would make possible in Gaza, will surely be welcomed by all, as will their shared hope for a speedy implementation.

As the UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said, failure to implement the resolution “would be unforgiveable”. An immediate ceasefire and the release of all hostages must now follow.

What remains of course as the most important initiative to be taken in Gaza that will save life is the issue of access of the already prepared volumes of food, medicines and the necessities of life that are blocked, not being allowed to cross by land to the people who desperately need them.

Secretary-General Guterres has stated that UNRWA’s work is a “lifeline of hope and dignity” for those suffering. As Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, has stated, the announcement by the Israeli Authorities that they would no longer approve any UNRWA food convoys to the north of Gaza “is outrageous and makes it intentional to obstruct lifesaving assistance during a man made famine”.

The urgent availability of food to those in such deep circumstances of hunger must remain foremost in all our thoughts. In that respect, the passing last Friday of a $1.2 trillion spending package that while releasing its regular funding to the Israeli authorities at the same time cut off, for at least 12 months, assistance to the head United Nations agency providing aid to Palestinians – and doing so as others have been reversing their decision as to UNRWA at the request of Ireland and others – has correctly been criticised by all those international bodies involved in seeking to avoid the conditions of famine now threatening.

The Act which presents the spending package that cuts aid to UNRWA also repeats the provision that none of the funds provided for would be made available for assistance for the Palestinian Authority if “the Palestinians initiate an International Criminal Court (ICC) judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.”

The blocking of access to an international court by victims – in this case settled Palestinians, among others, abused by violent members of illegal settlements, whose actions have already been condemned – fundamentally undermines any respect for international law.

The requirements of international law to have meaning must fall equally. The violent breaches committed by Hamas, when authenticated by relevant international agencies, should go before such an international court, but so also should all and any of the violence against Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza.

Such provisions of conditional and impeded access to funding tend to lend an ever-extending version of impunity to illegal activity. Accepting this from any side, or any source, undermines the international community as to the potential of international law in the future. It should be opposed by all who believe that equal access to and protection of international law is important.”