Thank you Mr. President.
I thank USG Jeffrey Feltman for his comprehensive briefing.
This is the first open debate of the Security Council on Middle East since resumption of direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians on 14 August. These talks carry the heavy burden of hope for the region as well as the international community. They represent a remarkable and historic chance of a solution, based on establishment of two states, living side by side, in peace and security.
We have noted that a number of negotiating rounds have been held in Jericho and Jerusalem. Reports emanating out of these talks are less than encouraging. Yet, we remain cautiously optimistic. It is our hope, as well as our wish that things behind the scenes are moving in the right direction. The nine-month deadline is critical. The longer it takes, the dimmer the possibility of a negotiated settlement would become.
In his report to the 68th UNGA on Peaceful settlement of the Question of Palestine, the Secretary General states, “For these negotiations to have a chance of success, they need to be meaningful with a clear political horizon and yield early dividends”. Pakistan fully agrees with this assessment.
We welcome the fact that the Quartet principals met on the sidelines of the UNGA on 27 September. They reaffirmed their determination to lend effective support to the parties and recommitted to a permanent status agreement, within the agreed timeline of nine months.
The commitment of the international community to this shared objective is critical. It is a fragile and complicated process and therefore, merits international community’s continued encouragement and support.
As we have consistently said, “the credibility of this Council, is linked to the peaceful solution of the long-standing Palestinian issue”.
For the process to move forward, specific actions are required on the ground. How can we expect building of trust in an atmosphere where settlement construction continues, Palestinian prisoners remain in prolonged detention, Gaza remains blocked and attacks in and around the Al-Aqsa Compound continue to sour the atmosphere? This delicate process needs trust. And trust, Mr. President, is earned by action and not mere words.
There have to be consequences for actions. We welcome, in this regard, the EU guidelines on settlements.
Pakistan’s support to the Palestinian cause is unrelenting. We have recently contributed a million dollars to the Palestinian Authority for construction of the Palestinian Embassy in Islamabad. This is just one of the many sincere gestures of the Government of Pakistan in solidarity with the people of Palestine and their just cause.
We continue to believe that peace in the Middle East is dependent on establishment of an independent, viable and contiguous State of Palestine, based on the pre-1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sahrif as its capital. Vacation of occupied Lebanese lands and the Syrian Golan is also imperative.
Turning now to the situation in Syria. We welcome the unanimous adoption of UNSC Resolution 2118 and continued cooperation of Syrian Government with the United Nations and the OPCW, aimed at dismantling of its chemical weapons programme. As the Secretary General has said in his proposal on elimination of chemical weapons in Syria, this is unchartered territory. The road ahead is difficult. Perseverance and patience would be the key. We hope that cooperation of the Syrian government with the Joint Team would continue and that opposition groups would also extend similar support.
Improved atmospherics in the Council were instrumental in adoption of the PRST on humanitarian situation. We hope that Council’s pronouncement would have the desired effect in alleviating the suffering of our Syrian brothers and sisters, both inside the country and outside.
Neither the destruction of chemical weapons nor the improvement of humanitarian situation is a panacea of the ills afflicting Syria. The real solution lies in dialogue and engagement. We welcome the renewed momentum towards convening of Geneva-II. We hope that it would be convened in November. Work towards a plan that fulfills the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and is Syrian-led and Syrian-owned remains crucial. We hope that all sides would work towards such an outcome.
I thank you Mr. President.