Statement by Ambassador Masood Khan Permanent Representative of Pakistan in the debate of the Security Council on “Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question" New York,(20 January 2014)

Thank you Mr. President,

We thank the Secretary General for his compre-hensive briefing.

We congratulate Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania and Nigeria for assuming membership of the Council, and especially thank the Foreign Minister of Jordan, H.E Mr. Nasser Judeh, for presiding over today’s session in the morning. (I am especially pleased to see you, Prince Zeid, preside over the Council this month)

Mr. President,

This year// is an important year for locking in a two state solution. Last week, on January 16, the United Nations formally launched the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, expressing the hope that in coming months, Palestine, Israel and the international community will intensify their efforts to find a lasting peace.

Resumption of the peace process in August 2013 was a true blessing// but talks for the past six months have lingered on without producing any results. Let me add that even this halting process of engagement between the two sides is better than complete breakdown and estrangement.

This year, Mr. President as we all hope, should be a year of decisions and an enduring political solution that would lead to an independent, viable and contiguous State of Palestine, based on pre-1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, living side by side with Israel, and both sides recognizing each other's legitimate rights.

I would hasten to add that vacation of occupied Lebanese lands and the Syrian Golan is equally essential.

Talks, however, should not drag on forever. They must produce results. Decades have already been lost and this has kept the region in a maelstrom of conflict. To achieve results both sides will have to move with courage and avoid steps that scuttle the talks.

Four steps by the Israeli Government can stem this downslide on the ground.

One, a stop to settler attacks.

Two, a halt in illegal settlement activity.

Three, repeal of the law passed late last year that effectively annexes around 29% of the occupied West Bank.

Four, easing the blockade of Gaza and an end to demolitions and displacement there and in the West Bank.

We welcome the release of Palestinian prisoners, which is an important confidence building measure. Prisoner releases, however, should not be linked to the announcement of massive settlement construction and to create a false quid pro quo.

Mr. President,

We endorse the call of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to all the parties in Syria to allow free passage to the humanitarian convoys to Yarmuk carrying foodstuffs and medical assistance for the besieged Palestinian refugees.

At the 20th session of the the OIC's Al Quds Committee, held in Marrakech last week, Paki-stan once again expressed its consistent and unflinching support for the Palestinian cause and the full realization of their right to self-determination.

Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan's Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, during his call on President Mahmood Abbas, offered assistance for capacity building programmes, as well as education and training in the fields of medicine, engineering ,diplomacy.

Mr. President,

This is an important week for Syria. The planned talks in Montreaux come after a long and vexing waiting period. This moment is precious. It must not be squanderd. The destiny of the people of Syria and peace and stability of that country will be in the hands of the Syrian interlocutors - from government and opposition. It is high time for the Syrian nation to turn a new leaf.

The latest diplomatic problems arising on the question of participation at Montreux should be resolved urgently so that the entire process is not imperiled or derailed. We should harness all the ingenuity to salvage the talks.

The brutal Syrian conflict, which has left more than 100,000 dead and some 9 million in need of humanitarian assistance, has made one point abundantly clear: there is no military solution. The struggle to get an upper hand in the battlefield kills more Syrians; it does not bring peace.

It is also clear that no political solution is possible without "mutual consent" of all sides. We urge all participants at the conference at Montreaux to commit to engagement and dialogue until they produce a blueprint for peace and transition.

We pay tribute to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, the US, Russian Federation, and regional pow-ers, for investing their political capital in the Geneva process.

We support the call by the High Commissioner for Human Rights for immediate cessation of mass executions and killings by some armed groups committed in violation of international law.

Finally, Mr. President, we call on all sides in Syria to cease or at least pause all military operations for the duration of the Montreaux talks.

I thank you.