UNSC Votes on Resolution for Israel-Palestine Conflict
The attacks, which killed over 1,400 people and took nearly 200 people hostage, were a clear violation of international humanitarian law. Reuters / Carlo Allegri

The United Kingdom has expressed its unwavering support for Israel's right to self-defence, emphasising its commitment to international humanitarian law during a recent statement at the United Nations Security Council.

Ambassador Barbara Woodward, representing the UK, issued a statement outlining the UK's stance on the Middle East conflict, the draft resolution at hand and the need to protect civilians. The UK's position was made clear, citing concerns over recent events in the region.

In her statement at the UN Security Council, Ambassador Woodward stated: "The UK supports Israel's right to self-defence in line with the UN Charter," reiterating the importance of international law in the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. The draft resolution being discussed at the Council was welcomed for its condemnation of Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel that occurred on October 7, 2023.

It called for actions taken in line with international humanitarian law, stressing the protection of civilians and humanitarian access, with a shared priority to prevent regional escalation.

However, the UK expressed reservations about the draft resolution's clarity regarding Israel's inherent right to self-defence. The statement referenced the significant loss of life in the Hamas attacks, which resulted in over 1,400 fatalities and nearly 200 people taken hostage.

Ambassador Woodward pointed out that Hamas had been using innocent Palestinian civilians as human shields by embedding themselves in civilian communities, making the Palestinian population victims as well. As a result of these concerns, the United Kingdom chose to abstain from voting on the resolution.

Ambassador Woodward affirmed the UK's strong support for Israel, stating: "My Prime Minister has been clear that the UK stands with Israel in the face of these atrocities." The UK fully supports Israel's right to defend itself against Hamas, secure the release of hostages, deter further incursions and enhance its long-term security.

The UK, however, also called on Israel to take all feasible precautions to avoid harming Palestinian civilians and act in accordance with international humanitarian law.

Furthermore, the United Kingdom pledged to work closely with Israel and regional partners to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. This collaborative effort aims to ensure the protection of civilians and their access to essential resources such as food, water, medicine and shelter. The UK's goal remains focused on achieving peace and stability through the Two-State Solution.

Following the initial statement, Ambassador Barbara Woodward returned to the UN Security Council to provide a follow-up statement. This time, the UK expressed deep sorrow over the destruction and loss of lives at the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza. Ambassador Woodward stressed that hospitals are protected under international law and should never be targeted, regardless of the ongoing conflict.

Acknowledging Israel's right to defend itself against Hamas, the UK reiterated its demand for the minimisation of civilian casualties through all possible precautions and called for unimpeded humanitarian access to ensure the delivery of essential aid and resources.

The UK also emphasised that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people. The importance of maintaining humanitarian support and access to Gaza was reiterated and the United Kingdom pledged an additional £10 million in humanitarian assistance.

In an effort to support the delivery of vital aid and the safety of foreign nationals, the UK called for the opening of the Rafah crossing and security guarantees.

Ambassador Woodward made it clear that further escalation of the conflict must be avoided. To this end, the UK Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have been working diligently to engage with Israeli, Palestinian and regional leaders.

The UK expressed its continued commitment to work with international partners to break the cycle of violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, with the ultimate goal of achieving peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.