Statement by Ambassador Nabeel Munir, Acting Permanent Representative of Pakistan at the Security Council Open Debate on “Situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian question” (July 25, 2017)

Mr. President,

Every time we meet here to discuss the situation in the Middle East, we are constrained to lament it further. The spiraling violence, the looming humanitarian catastrophe, the untold pain and human suffering is surely not sustainable.

And nothing epitomizes it better than the plight of the Palestinian people, who, for the last seventy years, have suffered dispossession, displacement and deprivation at the hands of Israeli occupation.

On the fiftieth anniversary of the illegal occupation of their homeland, it is unfortunate that the aspirations of the Palestinians to live a life of freedom and dignity remain a distant and elusive ideal.

Escalating tensions and violent clashes taking place in and around the Old City of Jerusalem during the last few days are a reminder that we are sitting on a tinderbox. As the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov has rightly noted, the fallout of these events taking place over a couple of hundred square meters, affect hundreds of millions of people around the world. These people have only one demand, the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the status of Jerusalem must be preserved.

While the Security Council has taken cognizance of the grave situation, words must be complemented by concrete actions. Israel must take immediate steps not only to defuse the situation, but also desist from taking any provocative measures in the future.

Mr. President,

A viable, independent and contiguous State of Palestine on the basis of the internationally agreed parameters, the pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, is the only sustainable guarantee for enduring peace in the Middle East.

There is nothing inimical to this vision than the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. Yet, there has been a “substantial increase” in settlement-related activities in the occupied lands.

This trend is emblematic of the blatant Israeli disregard of international law and collective will of the international community, including the Security Council Resolution 2334. It is also a setback to peace, and a retreat from a two-state ‘solution’ to a one-state ‘illusion’.

Meanwhile, in its 11th year, the suffocating Israeli blockade of Gaza is not only a humanitarian tragedy, but also a moral outrage.

The region can only reap the dividend of peace if it is predicated on the foundation of justice; an imperative that demands an end to illegal Israeli occupation and the grant of the legitimate Palestinian aspiration to statehood. A just solution for Palestine is not just a matter of regional significance; it is a primary pre-condition for global peace and security.

Mr. President,

We are also concerned that the UNRWA continues to face serious resource constraints in its commendable work for the Palestinian refugee populations. An adequate and sustained financial inflow is important to maintain the integrity and efficiency of its activities.

Mr. President,

The fight against violent extremism in the Middle East is long-drawn and protracted. Wars and foreign occupations have compounded these challenges.

The liberation of Mosul is an important milestone in Iraq’s fight against Daesh and its affiliates, and we are confident, towards an inclusive Iraqi state, recognizing and reconciling the interests of all Iraqi people.

The Intra-Syrian talks are central to the process of political reconciliation in the country. Successive round of talks are yet to deliver a major breakthrough, but the parties, major powers and the international community in general, must persist. For a military solution is neither achievable nor sustainable.

The situation in Yemen has further aggravated, especially in view of the worst cholera epidemic. Seven million people, including two million children are at the cusp of a famine. Addressing the resource shortfall in the Yemen ‘Humanitarian Resource Plan’ should be an urgent priority.

Mr. President,

What we need for lasting peace and stability in the Middle East is a firm resolve, concerted action, and above all, justice and the rule of law. This can only be achieved by when all sides are willing to make difficult choices. We hope we are all ready for that test.

I thank you.