Statement by Ambassador MunirAkram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN at the Security Council open debate on the “Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question” (22 January 2020)

Mr. President,

The Pakistan delegation welcomes this opportunity to discuss the situation in the Middle East. We have listened carefully to the briefings by USG DiCarlo and ASG Mueller.

Mr. President,

The situation in the Middle East poses a grave threat to international peace and security. Even as old conflicts fester, new threats have emerged. In the region, strategic rivalry has assumed a sectarian hue. Competing and overlapping interests of regional and external powers threaten to erode the foundations of peace and stability in the region and beyond. Civilian populations, including women and children have become the principal victims of protracted violence and instability.

As recent developments in the Gulf region have demonstrated, the threat of dangerous escalation is never far-off. The region cannot afford another conflict. In the wake of the recent tensions between Iran and the US, Pakistan has sought to defuse these tensions. On the personal initiative of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Qureshi has undertaken visits to Tehran, Riyadh and Washington in the last few days. We have underscored the need for mutual restraint, including non-use of force and the recourse to dialogue for settlement of all disputes. The positive reaction from all sides is encouraging. This could serve as a first step towards a broad-based regional engagement. Pakistan will continue to be a partner for peace in the region.

Mr. President,

There have also been diplomatic gains in other parts of the Middle East. Last week, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2505, renewing the mandate of the UN Mission to support the Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA) for another six months. This was a clear signal of the international community’s commitment to a peaceful solution of the Yemen crisis. Full implementation of the agreement will provide the requisite momentum towards peace in the country.

In Syria, the establishment of the Constitutional Committee has rekindled hopes of an inclusive political settlement. We echo calls by the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Gier Pedersen, that the Committee needs to be “nurtured” and “genuinely supported” by the Syrian parties and the international stakeholders.

The Berlin Conference on Libya must be followed by the fulfillment of the pledge by international powers to allow and enable space for a political reconciliation between the various factions within Libya.

Mr. President,

The tragedy of Palestine – at the heart of much of the turmoil in the Middle East, however shows no signs of ending. As illegal Israeli settlements expand into the occupied Palestinian territory, the vision of a two-state solution is being systematically reduced into a one-state reality. Unilateral moves on the status of Jerusalem and Israeli settlements have further dimmed the prospect of peace.

The United Nations, including the Security Council, have a central role in responding to these challenges. The elements of a comprehensive settlement are well-known – principle of “land for peace” through implementation of Security Council resolutions 242, 338, the Madrid terms of reference and the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002.The international community must continue to promote the aim of creating “a viable, democratic sovereign and contiguous Palestinian State living side by side with Israel in peace and security”.

I thank you, Mr. President.