Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN at the Security Council open debate on “The situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian Question” (January 25, 2018)

Mr. President,

Let me begin by thanking the Kazakh Presidency for convening this open debate.

As we mark a new year, the global peace and security landscape remains plagued by mounting and complex challenges. Conflicts have intensified and new dangers have emerged. In fundamental ways, the world has gone in reverse.

Nowhere is this fraught and volatile situation more apparent than in the Middle East. The two-state solution is in peril. The plight of the Palestinian people is being betrayed at the altar of narrow and myopic political interests and the quest for peace and stability in the region is becoming more elusive than ever.

We have witnessed this morning an unfortunate flight from reality with some speakers trying to deflect attention from the tragedy of the Palestinian people. We know why. Occupiers have no case to make other than to create alternate facts.

Mr. President,

The recent decision by certain countries to relocate their Embassies to Jerusalem has further inflamed the situation. It has been justified as an expression of their sovereign right. This is a false determination.

The legal status of Jerusalem is unambiguous: several Security Council and General Assembly resolutions affirm that all legislative and administrative measures taken by the occupying power to alter the character and status of Jerusalem are ‘null and void’. Security Council Resolution 478 in fact calls on states that have established their diplomatic missions in Jerusalem to withdraw them from the Holy City.

Any action to the contrary is therefore, not only a manifest violation of the Resolution, it is also a blatant attempt to legitimize Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem.

Mr. President,

When principles are trumped by self-serving interests, rationality and reason are invariably supplanted by threat and intimidation. We have witnessed this unfortunate spectacle with disturbing frequency in recent days, including at the UN.

Yet, despite these provocations, members of the international community have stood firm and unfazed in their support for the Palestinian cause.

Pakistan will continue to support the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians, as indeed, people living under foreign occupation in Kashmir and elsewhere.

The Middle East can only seek the dividend of peace if it is built on the foundation of justice - an imperative that entails a viable, independent and contiguous State of Palestine on the basis of internationally agreed parameters, the pre-1967 borders and with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital of the Palestinian State.

Mr. President,

Pakistan is also deeply concerned over the continued financial constraints faced by UNRWA. The unfortunate situation has been aggravated by the unilateral decision of a major UNRWA donor to withhold more than half its funding to the organization.

The international community must not fail the Palestinian refugees.

We must act now to ensure sufficient and sustainable financing for UNRWA. Its activities are a lifeline for Palestinian refugees.

Mr. President,

Peace in the Middle East is essential for global peace and security.

Yet the region continues to be caught in a vortex of conflict, turmoil and intense rivalry between regional powers. The cumulative consequence of this is to plunge the Middle East into chaos and disorder.

In Yemen, a surge in diplomacy is essential to kick-start an inclusive political process. Prompt replacement of the outgoing Special Representative would be critical. This must be complemented by a massive humanitarian surge to address the suffering of the Yemini people, especially women and children.

In Syria, continued engagement by all sides in genuine, representative and direct intra-Syrian negotiations is the only way forward towards finding a political settlement of the conflict. We hope the latest round of talks, which started in Vienna today, will produce concrete results.

In conclusion let me say, this esteemed body must live up to its responsibilities and ensure the implementation of its own resolutions on Palestine and other longstanding disputes including Kashmir lest people around the world lose complete faith in the UN.

I thank you.