Written Statement by the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, Ambassador Munir Akram, for VTC Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question (16 May 2021)

Mr. President,

Pakistan welcomes this open meeting of the Security Council to discuss the extremely grave situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Jerusalem. It is regrettable that the Council has been unable to even hold this meeting and to take action to halt Israeli aggression for so long.

Pakistan condemns Israel’s use of indiscriminate and disproportionate force, including aerial bombing, resulting in the deaths of nearly 200 Palestinians, including dozens of women and children, as well as destruction of civilian infrastructure. We also strongly condemn: Israel’s deliberate and systematic assault against Palestinian worshippers in the Haram-al-Sharif, including the Al-Aqsa mosque during the holy month of Ramadan; its violation of the sanctity of these holy sites; its continued policy of expansion of its illegal settlements; its forced evictions of Palestinians, and demolition of their homes; its targeting of journalists and international media outlets in the occupied Palestinian territories.

These Israel’s actions are unacceptable; and are in contravention of the norms of international law. They violate UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions; and have grave implications for the maintenance of peace and security in the region and beyond.

Mr. President,

UNSC resolution 242 (1967) declared the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and demanded that Israel withdraw its armed forces from territories occupied in the 1967 war. Numerous UNSC resolutions, including resolution 2334 (2016), have declared that the “establishment by Israel of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of a two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

Likewise, UNSC resolutions 252, 267 and 271 of 1968 censured Israel in the strongest term for its illegal and unilateral measures taken to change the status of city of Jerusalem. The Council called on Israel to rescind such measures and to refrain from such actions in future. It recognized “that any act of destruction or profanation of the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites in Jerusalem or any encouragement of, or connivance at, any such act may seriously endanger international peace and security”. UN General Assembly resolution 2253 also declared Israeli measures to change the status of Jerusalem as invalid. Subsequently, UNSC resolution 478 and others on the status of Jerusalem reaffirmed this position.

Israel’s ongoing attacks against Palestinians also violate UNSC resolutions, including resolution 259 (1968), relating to the protection of civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories.

It is regrettable that despite the daily loss of lives due to Israel’s aggressive actions, the Security Council has failed to demand that Israel halt its indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force against the defenseless and beleaguered Palestinian people in Jerusalem, in the occupied West Bank and in the besieged Gaza. It is regrettable that such actions by the Council have been prevented by those who proclaim their strong adherence to the principles of human rights and the international rule of law.

In the ongoing Israeli onslaught against the Palestinians, the violations of human rights and of international legality could not be more blatant and egregious; yet, Israel continues to enjoy immunity from the often-used sanctions against others; it enjoys impunity from any accountability for its aggression, which many have judged amount to war crimes; and impunity for flouting the so called “rules-based” world order.

Mr. President,

There is a neither a moral nor a military equivalence between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian cause is a legitimate struggle against an ‘occupying power’ by an ‘occupied people.’ It is a just struggle for self-determination and against foreign occupation. The asymmetry of power between an occupied and beleaguered people and one of the most powerful militaries in the region is stark and brutally evident.

Mr. President,

In the grim backdrop of the deteriorating situation in the region, we urge the Security Council to fulfill its Charter obligations, to call for an immediate halt to Israel’s use of disproportionate and arbitrary force; to offer protections to the Palestinian civilians who are bearing the brunt of the Israeli attacks; and to ensure Israel’s full compliance with international humanitarian and human rights laws, including the right to life, freedom of worship, movement and peaceful assembly. Israel must be asked to stop all unilateral and illegal steps including settlements and attempts to change the status of Jerusalem. The Council should initiate steps to hold Israel accountable for its

war crimes and crimes against humanity. Above all, the Security Council must promote the full implementation of the relevant UN resolutions especially for the realization of the two-state solution through the establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian state with pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

Thank you.