Statement by Ambassador Masood Khan, Permanent Representative of Pakistan in the General Assembly on Situation in the Middle East (Item-36) and The Question of Palestine (Item-37) (30 November 2012)

Mr. President,

Thank you for convening this meeting on the situation in the Middle East.

We align ourselves with the statement delivered by the Permanent Representative of Iran on behalf of NAM.

Mr. President,

Yesterday, this Assembly took a historic decision by admitting Palestine into its family as a 'Non-Member Observer State'. The decision coincided with the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. We congratulate President Mahmoud Abbas and the people of Palestine on this verdict of the Assembly.

This decision is a step in the right direction. This is a step towards acceptance of the realities on the ground. And this should be a step towards recognition of Palestine as a full member in the United Nations.

Pakistan was one of the co-sponsors of the UN General Assembly Resolution.

This decision of the United Nations General Assembly comes after a bloody week of killings in Palestine and a very welcome ceasefire. We condemned the killings. Sophisticated weapons – warships, aircraft, artillery and missiles – were used against the people of Gaza. This military campaign left over 160 dead and more than 1,200 injured in Gaza. It has left behind a trail of destruction which has worsened the humanitarian situation.

This recurring phenomenon, however, must end. We urge the international community to take immediate and effective steps to ensure that violence does not erupt again.

But today, let’s not talk only about violence, death and destruction. Let us talk about peace, security and stability in the region. Let’s talk about resumption of the peace process and full engagement between Palestine and Israel.

Some countries were disappointed by the General Assembly’s decision last evening. They thought that this was a unilateral action. The fact is that the people of Palestine have waited for far too long for the exercise of their right to self-determination and recognition of legitimate statehood.

It is our earnest hope and appeal that following yesterday’s decision there will be no reprisals or retaliations against Palestine. The people of Palestine need compassion and solidarity; not estrangement and punishment. We hope that instead of punitive measures, the emphasis will now shift to the resumption of dialogue for implementing the agreed two-State solution.

Mr. President,

Serious doubts have recently been expressed about the viability of the two-State solution and there has been talk of a one-State solution. As quoted by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, as well as the Secretary General in his report, the status quo would delay the two-State solution and may usher in a one-State reality, with unpredictable consequences. And may I say disastrous consequences.

As the window of opportunity for a two-state solution continues to narrow, there is urgency to reactivate the Middle East peace process, based on internationally agreed terms of reference, including Security Council resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative, the Quartet Roadmap and the Madrid principles.

Mr. President,

For a serious quest for peace and a two-State solution, construction of illegal settlements must cease. The Secretary General has noted that 43% of the West Bank has been allocated to local and regional settlement councils, with the result that those areas are off-limits to Palestinians, leaving the Palestinian territory divided into enclaves with little or no territorial contiguity. Israel must heed the Secretary General’s call to freeze all settlement activity in line with the Quartet road map.

The blockade of Gaza is a violation of Security Council Resolution 1860. We call for an end to this policy of collective punishment being meted out to 1.5 million Palestinians.

Mr. President,

The immobility of the Quartet leaves the people of Palestine with little hope. The winds of change blowing through the wider Middle East region demand that the Palestinians get a fair and just dispensation about their destiny.

Pakistan believes that comprehensive peace in the Middle East will remain elusive without creation of an independent, viable and contiguous state of Palestine, based on pre-1967 borders with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. Resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including through the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanese territories and the Syrian Golan is the only guarantee of sustainable peace in the region.

Mr. President,

The dark night of suffering of the people of Palestine must end now. A Palestinian State, living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors is the only guarantee of security and stability in the region. The international community must rise to deliver justice.

I thank you.