Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations on Agenda Item-54: Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (November 08, 2017)

Madam Chair,

Pakistan aligns itself with the statement made by Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

We thank the Chair and members of the Special Committee for their report. It is regrettable that Israel refuses to cooperate with the Committee in its important work.

We also thank the Secretary General for his reports.

Madam Chair,

This is no annual ritual or circus. It is only a circus for the occupying powers. In fact we meet at a particularly poignant moment in the modern history of Palestine.

Last week marked the centennial of the infamous Balfour Declaration, the first ‘act’ in the tragedy of Palestine that has seen entire generations of Palestinians, dispossessed and displaced from their homes, and even deprived of their fundamental ‘right of return’ to their own land.

he situation in the occupied land attests to a systematic pattern of human rights violations that impacts every aspect of Palestinian life. Arbitrary administrative detentions, including of children, demolition of homes, revocation of land rights and other measures of collective punishment, have become grim, daily facts of life – and suffering – for the Palestinian people.

Countless resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly have demanded an end to the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine. Yet, this collective voice of the international community has failed to tip the scales of justice in favor of the long-suffering Palestinians. This travesty must end.

Madam Chair,

Amidst this pervasive sense of gloom, the political reconciliation forged between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo last month, offers fresh reason for hope and optimism. It not only restores political unity within Palestinian ranks, but also provides renewed strength and vigor to the legitimate cause of the Palestinian people.

We congratulate our Palestinian brethren on this singular achievement and hope this will lead to real progress.

On its part, the international community must help sustain this positive momentum. As a first step, the illegal and oppressive siege of Gaza by Israel must be lifted.

Madam Chair,

Let us be clear there can be no peace in the Middle East without a resolution of the issue of Palestine. 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.

Nothing is more detrimental to this vision than the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. Yet, in blatant disregard of international law and the collective will of the international community, including Security Council Resolution 2334, Israel has stepped-up settlement-related activities in the occupied lands. This is a tragic setback to peace, and a retreat from a two-state ‘solution’ to a one-state ‘illusion’.

Tensions surrounding the holy Al Aqsa mosque in July this year were yet another reminder of the ever-present danger posed by unilateral Israeli attempts to alter or re-engineer the existing status quo in the old city of Jerusalem. Such actions are an unacceptable provocation for every conscientious human being, and must be brought to an end. Creating alternate ‘facts on the ground’ cannot change historic realities or abjure legal rights of people living under foreign occupation, in Palestine, or indeed, elsewhere.

A just peace in Palestine is not only a matter of regional significance; it is the primary condition for global peace and security. A two-state ‘solution’ remains an absolute imperative as there is no ‘Plan B’ for the region.

A long-term solution would also require the withdrawal of occupation forces from all Arab lands, including the Syrian Golan Heights.

Madam Chair,

Ever since its establishment, UNRWA has not only made invaluable contributions towards supporting the basic needs of the Palestinian communities, it has also served as a vehicle for political stability and social cohesion in its areas of operation.

The integrity of UNRWA activities including education, health and social services, can only be maintained through sufficient, predictable and sustainable financing. A persistent resource shortfall faced by UNRWA including US$ 126 million in the program budget for 2017, however, belies this ambition.

On its part, Pakistan was pleased to participate in the high-level meeting on ‘sustainable financing’ for UNRWA, on 22 September 2017. We have also doubled our voluntary contribution to UNRWA, for 2017, and will continue to support the important work of UNRWA, by all means possible.

I thank you.