Statement by Ambassador Raza Bashir Tarar Acting Permanent Representative of Pakistan in the debate of the Security Council on “Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question" New York, 25 July 2012

Mr. President,

Thank you for convening today’s debate.

We align ourselves with the statements to be delivered by the distinguished Permanent Representatives of Egypt and Kazakhstan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) respectively.

Mr. President,

We in the Security Council hold monthly consultations on the Middle East, followed by these quarterly open debates. The idea is to remain abreast of the situation through the closed consultations, by listening to the views of non-Members, on how to proceed, in the open debates. We all agree that this is the core issue in the Middle East and without its resolution comprehensive peace will continue to elude in the region. Yet the Middle East Peace Process is stalled and we see no serious effort for its resumption. Well established terms of reference of the peace process, including the Arab Peace Initiative and Security Council Resolutions provide an elaborate framework. It is the political will of one of the parties that continues to stymie us, and as a consequence, the prospects for peace in the region.

The current situation, gives rise to constrain to questions about the role of the major actors. What is the role of the Quartet? Are they doing justice to the task the Security Council and the Quartet entrusted to them?

While we keep dithering, the region is in turmoil, and without a clear roadmap, chances of an escalation remain high. The Security Council must act now. Otherwise the situation may spiral totally out of control.

Mr. President,

The Security Council continues to pay lip service to the plight of Palestinians while they continue to languish in abysmal conditions. According to the conclusions of a study called "Children in military custody", conducted by a team of British lawyers, and funded by the British Foreign and Common Wealth Office, the occupying power imprisons hundreds of Palestinian children and is in blatant breach of a number of provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Two legal systems continue to be in operation in the occupied lands. Similar conclusions have been drawn in the Secretary General's Report on Children and Armed Conflict for this year. How can the rights of Palestinians be protected under such unethical policies?

The Palestinians just marked the fifth year since the imposition of Israel's illegal blockade of the Gaza strip. According to UN estimates, 44% of the Palestinians in Gaza are food insecure and 80% aid dependent. Unemployment remains high, and 38% of the population live below the poverty line. While this collective punishment of 1.6 million Palestinians continues unabated, in flagrant violation of UNSC Resolution 1860, the Security Council remains paralyzed and indecisive. Does the international community think that inaction would somehow lead to a resolution of this problem on its own? We have earlier proposed and we reiterate that the Secretariat should present the Council a matrix with implementation status of Resolutions adopted by the Council on the Palestine question, beginning with Resolution 1860.It is only logical for the Council to review implementation of its own resolutions and consider appropriate steps to address non-compliance with further intensification of Israel's illegal settlement campaign, it has again become evident that prospects of a two-state solution on the basis of pre-1967 borders are being eroded. The announcement in June of plans to construct additional units and grant subsidies for homes in West Bank settlements, backtracking on promises made earlier this year to deny such incentives, are further proof.

Mr. President,

A report prepared by the Economic and Social Council of West Asia, on people living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, states that Israel persisted in exploiting and endangering natural resources in the occupied territories. In addition, Palestinians and Syrians, living under occupation, continued to suffer from discrimination with respect to water allotment. The Human Rights Council has established a Fact Finding Mission to investigate these issues further. We hope it would be allowed to undertake its mandated tasks.

The question of a visit of the Security Council to the Occupied Palestinian Territory remains on the Council's agenda. This, we feel, would not only provide Member States with an opportunity to observe conditions on ground, but also bring back the much needed attention and focus of the international community to this festering sore. The Council should have responded positively to the Palestinian invitation.

Mr. President,

Pakistan supports lasting peace for all inhabitants of the Middle East. This is not possible without full withdrawal of Israel from all occupied lands, including those of Lebanon and the Syrian Golan. The solution to Syria's internal situation lies in a Syrian-led political process and the framework of Council's resolutions 2042 and 2043. Consensus adoption of resolution 2059 provides an opportunity for all sides to commit to peace and for all quarters to use their influence to genuinely support the Special Envoy's Plan.

The denial of the Palestinians right to self-determination remains at the heart of unrest in the region. Many speakers have mentioned the Arab Spring. In our view, the essence of the Arab Spring i.e. fulfillment of legitimate aspirations through peaceful means, is of direct relevance to the Palestinian question. It should be a reason to do away with lethargy and intransigence, and serve as the prime move for concerted actions to finally resolve a dispute that has been hanging fire for decades.

Our ultimate objective should continue to be the creation of an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian State. We welcome the League of Arab States' backing of a Palestinian plan to ask for UN recognition of the State of Palestine. We remain ready and willing to assist.

I thank you.