Taler og innlegg

Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide

Utenriksminister Espen Barth Eides innlegg på toppmøtet i Kairo, 21. oktober 2023.

As delivered

Thank you, Mr. President. Heads of States, Heads of Government, Excellencies. Thank you so much to Egypt and President al-Sisi for convening us here at this crucially important moment.

I think we are all here recognizing that we're in the midst of a very deep crisis. It's a crisis in Gaza, it's a crisis for Israel and Palestine. It's a crisis for the entire region. And it threatens to become a crisis for the entire world.

That's why we are all here. That's why we care. That's why we need to be very clear.

We have condemned the heinous attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians. We have condemned the announcement of a full blockade, a full siege, of Gaza. We deplore the loss of innocent life wherever it happens. And we're deeply worried by all the news we're receiving about the terrible humanitarian conditions inside Gaza right now.

Save the Children informs us that a child is dying every 15 minutes inside Gaza. This cannot go on. Water, electricity, food, medicine has been cut off. I am glad to see that 20 trucks came into Gaza this morning, and I would like to commend everybody who contributed to that. But it's a very, very, very small start. We need much, much more.

Humanitarian access has to be rapid. It has to be safe. It has to be unhindered. And it has to be regular, in order to be helpful. Norway joins the call for a humanitarian pause to facilitate that. And we remind everyone that pause are not, there is a constant obligation by warring parties to make sure that civilian populations are able to uphold bare necessities of life, even in the midst of war. Right now, the immediate need is to restore the access of water and electricity to Gaza.

Last week, we announced a contribution of 70 million Norwegian kroner to humanitarian activities. And I am happy to announce today an additional 60 million Norwegian kroner will be dedicated to UNRWA for their indispensable work in Gaza. So we need to address the immediate humanitarian situation.

However, that's not the solution. The solution has to be political again. And I very much agree with what King Abdullah said at the beginning of this round of speeches, that we all know that at the end of the day, it's best for Palestinians, it's best for Israelis, it's best for everybody that we actually establish a two state solution, one for Israelis, one for Palestinians. Norway has been committed to that for more than 30 years.

For three decades we have been chairing the donor committee, the AHLC. We continue to do so. But I want to share with you that we often have felt that this has been very much a process that has been upholding a status quo, and people have been confusing a non-solution that was barely maintained for a real solution. That was wrong. We have also seen good signs of constructive rapprochement between some of the states in the region, and some of the Arab states in the region and Israel. But we need to remind everybody that there must be a space for the Palestinian population and the Palestinian institutions in those solutions.

So I think that it is time now, as we move out of the rubble of this terrible crisis, as we have hopefully managed to deter a further escalation, we need to go back to the table. Go back to address the key issues, the key parameters of a two state solution. We need to reinvigorate. We need to renew. Maybe to restart. And we need to allow ourselves to think outside of the box. Not on where we want to go, which is a two state solution for Palestinians and Israelis. But how we do it, how we approach it.

I want to say, this is not the time to cut the support for the Palestinian authorities. A lot of people are deploring the activities of Hamas for very, very good reason. But if we on top of that, make it less possible to maintain the bare institutions of statehood under the Palestinian Authority's purview, this will not work. The whole idea of Oslo [process] was to start building the institutions of a state bottom up. But only for the purpose of fulfilling a political horizon further on. So the purpose was the statehood. And the instrument was building institutions bottom up. We started doing that, and a lot of us have spent quite a number of resources, political capital and money on exactly that. But the political horizon faded away. And without the political horizon, this simply does not make sense.

So out of this – today we meet about an acute humanitarian crisis, and we need to address that in Gaza right now, as is being done. And I agree with much that has been said on that specific issue. But it's just in the middle of conflict, in the middle of a downward spiral, that we need to start thinking of what happens later.

Norway remains committed, as we have been for the last three decades, and we stand ready to work with you to try to find that solution.

Thank you. Shukran.