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Statement by His Excellency Mohan Pieris, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka at the UNSC Open debate on the “Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”

Tuesday, 24 October 2023
H.E. Mr. Mohan Pieris
New York

Statement by His Excellency Mohan Pieris, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka
at the UNSC Open debate on the “Situation in the Middle East,
including the Palestinian question”
24 October 2023


Mr. President

Sri Lanka is gravely concerned by the ongoing escalation of violence and military action in Gaza, which has resulted in deaths and injuries to many innocent civilians and children and causing a grave humanitarian situation. Sri Lanka calls for the free movement of essential items and humanitarian aid including food, fuel, medicine, and electricity and water supply to Gaza. We call on all sides to immediately halt violence and take steps to prevent further civilian casualties.

We also call upon the international community to redouble their support to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which is playing a commendable and courageous role in helping vulnerable populations under extremely challenging circumstances.

Sri Lanka wishes to reiterate our call upon all parties to the conflict to keep open a humanitarian corridor to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the civilians in Gaza. We are committed to support the efforts and activities of the UN Secretary-General in his endeavor to mitigate the suffering of the people, the loss and damage to life & property and to bring about a ceasefire.

Mr. President,

Sri Lanka is no stranger to the scourge of terrorism. We condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including by all who resort to violence to achieve their goals, whether political or otherwise. Sri Lanka strongly condemns the violent terror attacks targeting civilians and calls for the immediate release of all hostages taken into Gaza. While recognizing the legitimate and sensitive security concerns of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples, we observe that indiscriminate actions that cause civilian casualties will only make the realization of an enduring peace a distant reality. We support diplomatic efforts to find a lasting solution to the conflict and request both parties to engage in a dialogue to achieve durable peace.

Sri Lanka remains committed to supporting a just and comprehensive negotiated political settlement to the Palestine issue in line with relevant United Nations resolutions, leading to two states – Palestine and Israel – living side by side based on the 1967 borders.

Mr. President

Amidst all the death and the destruction, that we witness today, isn’t it worthwhile to ask the question, “Where will our actions lead us to?” Are we propelling the whole world into a greater calamity than the ones we are already faced with? Aren’t our actions making collective decision-making more untenable? It is time that all actors take a step back and reflect on the gravity of our actions. Endless cycles of recrimination with threats to annihilate the other can only hurt.

Mr. President

This war of today or the one that will present itself to us tomorrow will not solve any of the pressing issues faced by the planet today, including of the people in Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza. With the capacities at our disposal, it may be one where the survivors might envy the dead. Let us ensure that sanity prevails. An immediate de-escalation of hostilities in Israel and Palestine is an indispensable must. Let us therefore make the most of this opportunity, and every opportunity, to ensure an immediate cessation of hostilities and an end to this perilous aggression!

The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. Philosophers say that peace is a by-product of trust and trust happens when we focus on who our neighbor is and who we are to him. Let us transpose that ethos to the present environment, as it is only then that our work in the UN can be structured to accommodate one another as members of one human family, in a spirit of true brotherhood. Isn’t that, Mr. Chairman, the missing link in the resolution of the conflict at hand?

Thank you.

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