National Statement at the UN General Assembly's 10th Emergency Special Session

Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations, H.E. Ambassador Elina Kalkku delivered Finland's National Statement at the UN General Assembly's 10th Emergency Special Session on Wednesday, November 1st, 2023, in New York.

Mr. President, 

Finland aligns itself with the statement by the European Union.

We have condemned the cowardly terrorist attack by Hamas against civilians in Israel in the strongest terms. In only three weeks, over ten thousand people in Israel and the Palestinian territory have lost their lives in the attack and the escalation that has followed. We are deeply saddened by all this human suffering. Civilians, including women, children and the elderly, have once again paid the highest price.

We stress that International humanitarian law must always be respected by all parties to a conflict and all civilians must be protected in all situations. Security belongs to all.

Finland recognizes the right of Israel to protect its civilian population. We strongly underline that military operations must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law. All possible measures to spare civilian lives must be taken in all situations.

We call for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages held in Gaza and commend the role that the UN, Egypt, Qatar and other countries in the region have once again played.

We supported the Canadian amendment to the resolution presented on Friday. The amendment would have been important and truthful in clearly mentioning the responsibility of Hamas, which is a terrorist organization. Because the amendment was not adopted, we unfortunately had to abstain on the resolution despite agreeing with most of its highly relevant and carefully formulated content. We thank the Arab Group for all their work in building consensus on this extremely important and urgent issue. We urge the Security Council to assume its responsibility under the Charter and adopt a resolution as soon as possible. The already catastrophic situation is deteriorating as we speak.

Mr. President,

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is catastrophic. International Humanitarian Law protects objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as food, water, medical supplies, shelter as well as electricity and fuel. The civilian population of Gaza - including the children and women, of whom 50 000 are estimated to be pregnant - is in desperate need of all this. We call for continued, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access. All necessary means, including humanitarian corridors and pauses for humanitarian needs, must be employed to facilitate the delivery of more aid with utmost urgency. Our great appreciation goes to the UN and other humanitarian actors for their crucial work, often at the risk of their lives. Efforts to discredit the UN and other humanitarian personnel are unacceptable.

A joint international effort to de-escalate and to prevent further escalation is needed. The developments in the West Bank are going in the opposite direction. Israel has the legal obligation to protect civilians also from the violence of Israeli citizens residing in the settlements, which are all illegal under international law.

We greatly appreciate the diplomatic role that Secretary-General Guterres, the countries in the region as well as the United States have played on the ground. We commend Egypt for the important initiative to host the Peace Summit. All diplomatic efforts are now of great value. We highlight the constructive role and commitment to non-violence of the Palestinian Authority. The role that the Palestinian Authority has played and continues to play as the partner for the entire international community should be commended and respected.

The situation again highlights that the only sustainable way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a negotiated two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders. The solution must meet Israeli and Palestinian security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty, end the occupation that began in 1967, and resolve all permanent status issues. Gaza and the West Bank must be considered as one entity in order to create a viable Palestinian State. We as the international community must bear our responsibility by making the strongest possible push for negotiations as soon as it becomes possible.