As we enter a new year, and the fourth month of the war in Gaza, the need for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, and full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access is more urgent than ever.
Events across the region in recent days are also a stark reminder of the potential for further escalation. A widening of this conflict would have devastating consequences for the region and for the world. The international community simply cannot allow further civilian suffering and deaths. I urge all parties in the region to exercise restraint and avoid escalation.
Attacks on shipping in the Red Sea by the Houthis in Yemen are not only putting the lives of the crews in danger but are having an increasingly serious impact on global trade, with all the consequences that has for the lives and livelihoods of communities across the globe. As always, it is the poorest and most vulnerable communities – in the Middle East, Africa and globally – that are the most severely affected.
This trajectory must be reversed. The international community, including parties in the region, must, in the first instance, redouble efforts to end the conflict in Gaza.
But our ambition should not be limited to de-escalation. We must take concrete steps to achieve long-term peace, stability and security for Palestinians and Israelis and for the region as a whole. This can only be done through a sustained and serious commitment to a two-state solution; not as an oft-repeated shibboleth but as a concrete reality. In that context, the recent comments by Israeli government ministers calling for the resettlement of Palestinians outside of Gaza are utterly unacceptable and inflammatory. Gaza is Palestinian land and is an integral part of a future state of Palestine.