Since this is the first time I am taking the floor in the Security Council, I convey my warm greetings to you and other distinguished Permanent Representatives in the Council.
I look forward to working closely with all of you. It is a privilege for Pakistan and me to be part of this eminent body of diplomats and statesmen, who focus all the time on the pressing issues of peace and security.
Thank you so much for convening today’s debate. I also thank Undersecretary General Jeffrey Feltman for his useful briefing.
We align ourselves with the two statements to be delivered later by the distinguished Permanent Representatives of Iran and Kazakhstan, respectively, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The debate today and the attention to the issue of Palestine during the recent High Level Segment of the UN General Assembly session shows that the discourse on Palestine is not completely frozen. The Council itself, at its high level debate last month, heard world leaders on the compelling reasons to address the Palestinian issue.
Yet there is no movement towards resumption of the suspended peace process. In the meantime, the human rights and humanitarian situations of Palestinians living under occupation continue to deteriorate.
The Quartet’s inability to meet on the sidelines of the UNGA High Level Segment has been seen as a setback.
The global consensus on the goal of the two-state solution reflects the wisdom and maturity of the international community. But this goal remains elusive and empty without constant engagement and practical steps towards its achievement.
Pakistan supports the rights of the Palestinian people and an independent Palestinian State; and favors admission of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations. In the interim, we endorse the Palestinian Authority’s initiative to achieve the status of "Non-Member Observer State". We respect the Authority’s decision about the timing of this initiative.
The Secretary General’s report pursuant to UNGA Resolution 66/17 states that there has been little progress in the past year. This is disappointing.
He is of the view that the current impasse in the peace process is undermining the viability of a two-State solution. The Secretary General also expresses his concern that “we are increasingly moving away from a two-state solution into a one-state reality...”
The Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has reached a similar conclusion in its annual report. It says that the status quo "may usher in a one-State reality with unpredictable consequences". Nobody wants such a drift or such an outcome.
There is evidence that the illegal Israeli settlement policy has remained the biggest roadblock to the resumption of the Middle East peace process.
The United Nations Country Team in Gaza, in its latest report, paints an extremely bleak picture. The illegal blockade of the territory and the collective punishment being meted out to the population of Gaza must cease.
Recent intensification of military bombardment of the Gaza Strip threatens to destabilize the situation further. The lack of political perspective for the Palestinian youth and the continuing settler attacks on Muslim and Christian Holy sites are fueling violence. The Security Council should take note of this growing threat.
On a broader plane, the Security Council must ensure and monitor implementation of Resolution 1860 and its other resolutions. As we have said before, the Secretariat should provide the Council with a matrix of implementation status of the Resolutions adopted by the Council on the Palestine Question.
The State-building efforts of the Palestinian Authority have been widely applauded. The Secretary General has said the steps taken by Palestinian Authority to build robust state institutions and revive economy have brought security and economic improvements. The admission of Palestine into UNESCO as a member last year is yet another recognition of the success of these efforts.
Core issues and questions must be addressed for a lasting peace. We call for a solution of the question of Palestine in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative, the Madrid Principles and the Quartet Roadmap. Resolution of the final status issues should lead to the establishment of an independent and viable State of Palestine on the basis of pre-1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.
Pakistan has been a consistent supporter of the Palestinian cause for more than six decades. We support lasting peace for all in the Middle East. Israel should withdraw from all occupied lands, including those of Lebanon and the Syrian Golan.
Despite other important developments taking place in the region, the Palestinian issue must retain its primacy. It should not be allowed to be eclipsed or sidelined.
The Secretary General has said that peace and Palestinian statehood are long overdue. To achieve these overriding objectives, the following steps ought to be taken with a high sense of urgency.
One, the international community, led by the Quartet, should re-engage and refocus on the Palestinian issue.
Two, direct and meaningful negotiations should resume.
Three, the cycle of violence should be stopped.
Four, efforts should be intensified to stem and address the grave humanitarian situations in Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank.
Five, the Security Council may re-energize itself for maintaining peace and security in this sensitive region. This path starts with monitoring implementation of its own resolutions.
The crisis in Syria continues to be a matter of serious concern to the international community and this Council. An early peaceful solution of the situation in Syria, in full respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity, is in the best interest of the people of Syria; and for peace and stability in the region.
We support the efforts of the Secretary General and Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi. The first priority is to bring about an immediate ceasefire to create an environment amenable to promoting diplomatic effort. We call on all sides in Syria and on external stakeholders to extend their full and genuine cooperation to the Joint Special Representative. Violence should not spin out of control. Conflict should not expand. Above all, diplomacy should prevail.
I thank you, Mr. President.