Meeting of the NAM Ministerial Committee on Palestine 17 January 2023 – Kampala, Uganda – Statement by Hon. Ali Sabry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka

Mr.  Chair

Distinguished delegates,

Allow me at the outset to thank Hon. Gen Odongo Jeje Abubakhar, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uganda and the Chair of the NAM Ministerial Meeting on Palestine for inviting me to this meeting.

Sri Lanka’s long held principled position on this matter has been clear. We recognize the legitimate and inalienable right of the people of Palestine to statehood. Sri Lanka remains committed to supporting a just and comprehensive negotiated political settlement to the Palestine issue in line with the relevant UN resolutions, leading to two States living side by side based on the 1967 borders. It is the obligation of the international community to walk the talk and ensure those resolutions are implemented on the ground and restore the dignity and freedom of the Palestinian people.

Sri Lanka is the Chair of the UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices and continues to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian cause and affirms the rights of the Palestinian people to live in peace and dignity.

Excellencies, last Sunday reached a grim milestone of hundred days of massive escalation of violence in the Gaza strip. We remain deeply concerned on the tragedy that is continuing to unfold causing an unprecedented level of civilian casualties. Over a million of Palestinians have been displaced and the psychological trauma endured particularly by the children is just heart breaking. Lack of medical supplies, food, water and fuel has further worsened the dire humanitarian situation.

Sri Lanka welcomes the high priority given by the 19th Summit of NAM to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the issue of Palestine. We also welcome the Political Declaration of the Meeting of the NAM Ministerial Committee on Palestine.

We reiterate our call for unhindered facilitation of humanitarian aid entry into Gaza at the scale that is required to prevent the risk of famine, disease and malnutrition.

The loss of over 152 UN staff aid workers which is reported to be highest number of UN aid workers killed in a conflict in the history of the United Nations is an alarming testament to the severity of the ongoing violence in Gaza. We take this opportunity to commend the dedication and courage of the healthcare and humanitarian aid workers in Gaza including the significant work of the UNRWA under extremely challenging circumstances, call for their urgent protection and renewed support for their activities.A humanitarian ceasefire is the only solution to halt the mounting civilian death toll. Hostages should be released and unfettered access to life saving essentials to the people in Gaza should be assured.

Excellencies, We are concerned about the peace and security of the Middle East due to the ongoing conflict as well its potential to spread beyond the Region. It is also a test of solidarity for NAM and we welcome the continuous support of NAM for the people of Palestine. We are pleased that all the amendments proposed by Palestine to the outcome document of this Summit were agreed upon with overwhelming support.

Double standards in the response to the crisis in Gaza has been evident. We call upon the international community to form a united front and a collective voice towards alleviating the humanitarian disaster in Gaza. Safety, dignity, and rights of both Israelis and Palestinians should be prioritized in the work towards advancing stable and sustainable peace.

We recognize legitimate security concerns of both Israeli and Palestinian peoples and acknowledge the deep pain, loss, and suffering that both sides have experienced over the long years of the continuing conflict. The cycle of violence must be broken. It is of critical importance that both sides engage in sincere dialogue in pursuit of a two-state solution and we urge for greater diplomatic efforts towards this end.

We must acknowledge that until everyone is safe, no one is safe. Until the Palestinians are safe, the middle east is not safe.  Until the middle east is safe, the world is not safe.

 Let me conclude by echoing the words of the UN Secretary-General, “The people of Gaza are looking into the abyss. The international community must do everything possible to end their ordeal.”

Thank you

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