Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, in the Fourth Committee on Agenda Item 55: Report of the Special Committee to investigate Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories and agenda item 54: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) (13 November 2018)

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation aligns itself with the statements delivered by Venezuela on behalf of NAM, and Bangladesh on behalf of the OIC.

We also thank the Special Committee for its latest report.

Mr. Chairman,

This report is another sad chronicle of a heart-wrenching situation – an unending tale of pain and suffering of the Palestinian people in the dark shadows of an illegal and oppressive occupation that has already lasted a life-time; their fundamental human rights violated with abandon, their hopes of a life of dignity and freedom undermined at will.

In an environment where the right to life of ordinary Palestinians is threatened at every turn; where arbitrary arrests and administrative detentions, including of children, is a norm; where collective punishment of an entire population is considered justified, the very act of survival is a daily ordeal for the Palestinians.

Who would know this grim reality better than the 2 million people of Gaza – besieged for the past 12 years, they have long crossed the ‘livability’ threshold. Restrictions on imports including of emergency fuel has meant that essential services including health and access to clean drinking water, are at a breaking point. As critical care units at Gaza hospitals struggle to survive, electricity shortages have made 97% of the available water supplies unfit for drinking.

And with the mounting death toll since the beginning of peaceful protests in March 2018, the plight of Gaza’s residents defies imagination.

As I speak violence has escalated again with a raid and bombings by Israeli occupation forces.

Mr. Chairman,

As noted by the report, Israeli settlements in the occupied territories continue to expand in blatant disregard of several Security Council resolutions including Resolution 2334.

The Bedouin community of Khan Al-Ahmar has become the latest flashpoint in the long-standing Israeli policy of dispossessing Palestinians of their land and disrupting their lives and livelihoods.

As the head of the Israeli NGO, Bet Salem, Hagai El-Ad told the Security Council last month, there is nothing random about this policy.

This is in fact a calculated and deliberate process of slowly disintegrating an entire people: separating Gaza from the West Bank, breaking up the West Bank into small enclaves and walling off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, so that “eventually, what remains are isolated bits, the easier to oppress”.

On the 25th anniversary of the Oslo peace accords, as fundamental tenets of the two-state solution are systematically dismantled in full view of the international community, many consider that this vision of peace and mutual coexistence has already run aground.

Mr. Chairman,

At a time when a political settlement of the Palestinian issue remains a distant ideal, the continued financial constraints faced by UNRWA has cast a fresh light on the long-term sustainability of many of its critical activities including education, health and social services to over 5 million Palestinian refugees.

It is however, heartening to note that in the wake of the unprecedented resource shortfall faced by UNRWA, of round $ 446 Million earlier this year, both traditional and new donors have stepped up their contributions.

Through their generous support, the international community has not only helped to bridge the existing resource gap, it has also given a vote of confidence to UNRWA’s role as a beacon of hope for Palestinian refugee communities across the region.

We have also taken note of the rigid financial measures undertaken by UNRWA to ensure better resource management.

At its core, the challenge for UNRWA is not inefficient use of resources; it is insufficient available resources.

Sufficient, predictable and sustainable financing for UNRWA is therefore, imperative to ensure the integrity of the agency’s core services.

On our part, Pakistan’s commitment to our Palestinian brothers and sisters remains firm and abiding.

As an expression of our solidarity, we have made an additional contribution to UNRWA this year.

Mr. Chairman,

The plight of the Palestinian people is as old as the UN itself. Despite countless resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly, the scales of justice have yet to be turned in favour of the Palestinian people.

Lack of progress on the Palestinian issue has not only betrayed the hopes and aspirations of generations of Palestinians, it has also sowed the seeds of endless hostility and discord in the region.

If the rising tide of violence and extremism is indeed to be reversed, this effort must begin with a just settlement of the Palestinian issue.

This is not a partisan assessment. It is an imperative for regional peace and stability.