Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Remarks to the UN Security Council on U.S.-Drafted Tripartite Resolution for Peace in Gaza

delivered 10 June 2024, UN Headquarters, New York, NY


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Thank you, Mr. President.

Colleagues, the last eight months have been nothing short of devastating: for Israelis who lost loved ones on October 7th, when Hamas set this conflict into motion, by carrying out acts of unthinkable violence; for Israelis, and people from more than 16 -- 16 other countries, whose sons and daughters, brothers and sisters are still being held hostage by Hamas; for Israelis who face constant rocket bombardment from Hamas, rockets that are fired off by terrorists hiding in civilian areas within Gaza.

The past eight months have also been devastating for Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Nearly two million Palestinians have had to flee from one place to another in search of safety; and for so many, that safety has been elusive.

My heart aches for the young child who will forever be traumatized by seeing their family members killed; for all Palestinians who have lost loved ones in this fighting; and for humanitarian workers, people who put their lives on the line to deliver aid to those in dire need, who have been caught in the crosshairs at an unprecedented level.

We continue to call on Israel to do everything possible to protect civilians.

But letís not forget that Hamasí leaders are the ones who have put civilians at risk by hiding in tunnels underground and facilities that are near civilians -- and doing nothing to shelter those civilians. Iíve rarely ever seen anything so egregious and cowardly.

Palestinian civilians are living through sheer hell through no fault of their own. And the humanitarian situation in Gaza has gotten worse and worse and worse. Families are living in makeshift conditions, unsure of what the next day holds. Millions are grappling with the uncertainty of what will be left when they are allowed to return home. I think about the parents trying to find food for their families; about the child who has been forced to stop their education; about the elderly person who no longer has access to essential medicines.

Colleagues, after eight months of devastation and pain and trauma, what is needed now more than ever is for the fighting to end in a sustainable way. The United States and every single country in this Chamber want to see an immediate ceasefire with the release of hostages. We've heard those calls time and time again since October 7th.

Now, the opportunity is here. We must seize it. And we must speak with one voice.

For months, the United States has worked around the clock along -- alongside Egypt and Qatar to broker a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas, because we know this is the best way -- actually, the only way -- to bring about a durable end to this war.

Since the brief ceasefire and hostage release last November, such a deal has proven elusive. Why? Because Hamas has refused to accept any agreement. But right now, there is another opportunity, because, as President Biden recently announced, Israel has agreed to a comprehensive deal. That is the deal now on the table, which is nearly identical to Hamasí own proposals.

This deal would bring hostages home; ensure Israelís security; enable a surge of humanitarian relief and essential services, including water and electric -- electricity, medical facilities, and rubble removal to Palestinian civilians in Gaza; and set the stage for a political settlement that provides a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike. This deal that has been endorsed by countries across the region, including Algeria, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the UAE, as well as by the G7 and those 16 countries whose citizens are being held by Hamas.

Now, we're all waiting. We're waiting on Hamas to agree to the ceasefire deal it claims to want. But we cannot afford to wait and wait and wait. With every passing day, needless suffering continues.

And so, all of us, as members of this Council, have a critical role to play. We can help bring about peace by adopting the resolution before us, which calls on Hamas to take the ceasefire deal, and urges both parties to fully implement the dealís terms without delay and without conditions.
This resolution, put forward by the United States after consultations with all Council members, makes clear that the world wants an immediate ceasefire with the release of hostages. The resolution also explains the framework of the deal. So, let me take a moment to lay that out.

The first phase of this agreement would last for six weeks and include an immediate, full, and complete ceasefire with the release of hostages, including women, the elderly, and the wounded; the return of the remains of some hostages who have been killed; the exchange of Palestinian prisoners; the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the populated areas in Gaza; the return of Palestinian civilians to their homes and neighborhoods in all areas of Gaza, including in the north; and the safe and effective distribution of humanitarian assistance in Gaza, including housing units delivered by the international community.

Importantly, the proposal says that if negotiations take longer than six weeks in phase one, the ceasefire will continue as long as negotiations continue. And the United States, Egypt, and Qatar would work to ensure negotiations keep going, in good faith, until all the agreements are reached and phase two begins.

In the second phase, upon agreement of the parties, there would be a permanent end to hostilities in exchange for the release of all other hostages still in Gaza, and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

Phase three would see the start of a major, multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza, and the return of the remains of Israelis and others still in Gaza to their families.

Colleagues, this is the deal on the table. Israel accepted this deal because it ensures its security. As President Biden made clear, Hamas is no longer capable of carrying out another October 7th, and the United Statesí commitment to Israelís self-defense is ironclad.

Colleagues, Iíll also note that this resolution rejects any demographic or territorial changes in Gaza, including any actions that reduce the territory of Gaza. And it reiterates this Councilís unwavering commitment to the vision of a negotiated two-state solution, where Israelis and Palestinians live side by side in peace, within secure and recognized borders, consistent with international law and relevant UN resolutions.

We all agree that a negotiated outcome along these lines is the only way forward. The draft before us also stresses the importance of unifying the West Bank and Gaza under the leadership of a reformed and revitalized Palestinian Authority. And this text recalls resolutions this Council has adopted since October 7th, including Resolution[s] 2712, 2720, and 2728 -- all of which demanded that all parties to the conflict protect civilians.

Colleagues, we need Hamas to agree to the ceasefire deal. And then we need Israel and Hamas to implement the deal without delays or conditions.

I donít want to keep waking up to news reports of more fighting and more loss of life. I donít want the families of hostages, many of whom I know personally, to insure even one more day -- to endure even one more day without their loved ones. I donít want another Palestinian family, including the relatives of people I have met with, to experience any more loss or suffering.

I want to see an enduring ceasefire, where Israel is safe -- safe from the threat of further terrorist attacks and rocket fire -- and Palestinians can begin rebuilding their lives in safety and security. I want to see families reunited. I want to see Palestinian children safe and fed and back in school. I want to see people return to their homes. We all want to see this better future: those of us here in this room, people across the world, and most of all, those living under this terrible conflict.

And so, colleagues, we must seize the opportunity before us. We must speak out with one voice in support of peace. I urge all Council members to vote ďyesĒ on this resolution, to vote ďyesĒ for peace.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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Page Updated: 6/12/24

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