We recognise the importance of this special session on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory. More than 100 Palestinians have been killed in the past six weeks during protests in Gaza. As our Prime Minister said earlier this week, this loss of life is tragic and extremely concerning. We have also expressed our concern at the role of Hamas and extremist groups have played in orchestrating these protests, and fomenting violence. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have themselves acknowledged that a substantial number of the deaths were in fact their militants.
It is regrettable therefore that the substance of today’s resolution is partial, and unhelpfully unbalanced. We cannot support an international investigation that refuses to explicitly call for an investigation into the action of non-state actors such as Hamas. An investigation of this kind would not provide us with a comprehensive assessment of accountability. It would risk hardening positions on both sides and move us further away from a just and lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The UK will therefore abstain on this resolution today.
Our abstention must not be misconstrued. The UK fully supports, and recognises the need for an independent and transparent investigation into the events that have taken place in recent weeks, including the extent to which Israeli security forces’ rules of engagement are in line with international law and the role Hamas played in events. The loss of life, casualties and volume of live fire presents a depressingly familiar and unacceptable pattern. This cannot be ignored.
To that end, in addition to abstaining on today’s resolution, we call directly on Israel to make clear its intentions and carry out what must be a transparent inquiry into the IDF’s conduct at the border fence and to demonstrate how this will achieve a sufficient level of independence. This investigation should include international members. The death toll alone warrants such a comprehensive inquiry. We urge that the findings of such an investigation be made public, and if wrongdoing is found, that those responsible be held to account.
This past week’s events serve as a tragic reminder of the consequences of conflict. Together it is incumbent on all of us to redouble our efforts to realise to a two-state solution, which will ensure justice and peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.