We thank you for convening this meeting, which coincides with the renewal of the Middle East-Palestine-Israel-peace process.
We thank Ambassador Riyadh Mansour of Palestine for his introductory remarks. We are grateful to him for sharing with us the Palestinian point of view at this critical juncture.
We welcome the beginning of direct negotiations between Palestine and Israel in Washington last evening.
This is a special moment for Palestine and the international community. The talks in Washington have rekindled the hopes for a peace process that could lead to enduring stability and security in the Middle East.
We pay tribute to Secretary of State John Kerry for his persistent diplomatic efforts that have led to the recommencement of talks. We also commend the concurrence of the Palestinian and Israeli negotiators to participate in the talks.
We know that many false starts have been made in the past. But we mustn't lose hope. We cannot lose hope until there is peace in the Middle East and a viable Palestinian State becomes a reality.
Every new round of engagement establishes what can work; and what can't. This is not the time for cynicism; but for sustained engagement and hope.
There is urgency in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Secretary Kerry has warned that time is running out. The Israeli settlements in the West Bank have doubled since 2000. Demographic balance is shifting.
While talks are taking place, the two sides should exercise maximum restraint in making public pronouncements that could complicate the negotiating process.
The latest round of talks should set clear benchmarks and time lines. Talks for the sake of talks could create an illusion without any progress on substance. That would disappoint everybody. The two sides should not go through the motions but work for real movement and progress.
We welcome the Israeli announcement to release 104 prisoners. This measure should be implemented expeditiously.
More confidence building measures will help. More Palestinian prisoners should be released. Settlements in the occupied territories should be frozen. The blockade in Gaza should be eased, and restrictions on movement removed.
Mistrust would not be removed easily. That is why both sides need to be patient and prudent, with the ultimate goal uppermost in their mind: peace.
The two-state solution should not be allowed to slip away. The formula for the Middle East peace is already on the table.
The talks should actualize a two-state solution which paves the way for a viable, geographically contiguous Palestinian State, created on the basis of pre-1967 borders with Al Quds al Sharif as its capital, living side by side with Israel in peace and security.
Simply put, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem should be part of the Palestinian State.
In the meantime, rights of the Palestinians should be respected; and all tendencies and inclinations towards violence curbed.
All actions must be firmly anchored in international law.
Pakistan expresses full solidarity with the people of Palestine.
I thank you Mr. Chairman