Foreign Minister Ian Borg on Monday appealed to the international community, particularly Israel and Hamas, to respect a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a pause in fighting to allow humanitarian aid for civilians and children.

"We are speaking about children's lives here. Let's have our priorities - what is dearer than children's lives?" Borg said in parliament.

The UN Security Council last Thursday adopted a resolution drafted by Malta calling for a pause in the fighting for humanitarian aid for the civilian population of Gaza, the evacuation of sick children and the release of hostages. 12 Security Council members voted in favour while the US, Russia and the UK abstained.

Delivering a rare ministerial statement, Borg said that Malta's purpose in successfully moving the Security Council resolution last week was to lay the ground for compromise and protect children and all civilians.

"Malta will continue to be an interlocutor for peace in a process where everyone will be heard and respected," he said.

He recalled that Malta had immediately condemned the Hamas attack on Israel early last month and called for Israel to respect international and humanitarian law and proportionality when it defended itself.

Talks were held within the UN Security Council with a view of agreeing a resolution. But it was immediately clear that there were many political sensitivities obstructing the process. This suspicion was confirmed when four draft resolutions were defeated.  

Malta therefore felt there was a need for new and innovative ideas and it therefore proposed a resolution focused on the humanitarian situation of children, more so as Malta chairs an international working group on children in armed conflict. 

Malta was also encouraged to proceed when the UN Secretary-General described Gaza as a cemetery of children.  

Malta's representative to the United Nations, Vanessa Frazier and her team worked unceasingly in talks with Security Council members and countries in the region. 

It was a delicate process where all views were heard and respected. "Our role was to set the ground for compromise," he said.

That the resolution was the first about the Middle East conflict to be approved since 2016 showed respect for Malta, and what it had proposed, Borg said.

Malta, he said, would continue to promote peace based on a two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of both. 

Shadow foreign minister Beppe Fenech Adami congratulated Malta's UN Representation for its achievement. He hoped the resolution would be observed and it would be followed up. 

Fenech Adami said he backed the two-state solution, but for that to happen, the Palestinians had to recognise the right for Israel to exist and Hamas therefore could not be the bargaining partner with whom to dialogue to achieve this aim.   

Nationalist MP Mario de Marco expressed his regret that some diplomats had immediately declared that the resolution would not be observed. That had led the Palestinian representative to ask the Security Council: What will you do about it?  Indeed how would the international community react? 

The tragedy of the Palestinian people had started 70 years ago and since then they had led a humiliating life. Malta should continue its efforts in all fora for a lasting and fair peace to be achieved. 

Replying, Borg said Malta had learned lessons about the rule of law and now it was appealing to the international community to respect the rule of law, more so that set by the world's highest organ through this resolution. 

"We are speaking about children's rights here. Let's have priorities. What is dearer than children's lives in a conflict that goes back for many years," he said.

Malta, he said, would not give up hope and would continue to work for peace.  


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