Islamabad, January 24, 2013 (PPI-OT): Calling for an immediate end to Illegal blockade of Gaza; construction of illegal settlements and collective punishment of its population, Ambassador Masood Khan said that comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East couldn’t be ensured without Israel’s withdrawal from all occupied lands, including those of Lebanon and the Syrian Golan.
Ambassador Masood Khan, Permanent Representative of Pakistan and President of UN Security Council for the month of January, said this while speaking in the debate of the Security Council on “Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question”.
Reviewing significant recent developments including November 2012 ceasefire between Hamas and Israel and the General Assembly’s historic vote, the same month, to make Palestine a “non-Member observer State”, Ambassador Khan said that there had regrettably been punitive measures carried out by Israel against the State of Palestine by announcing new settlements, including in the E-1 area; and withholding of tax revenues owed to the Palestinian Authority.
These measures, he said must be rolled back as it would not be in the interest of regional peace and stability; nor of Israel and would scuttle the two-State solution as well as debilitate Palestine economically and financially.
He condemned the Israeli announcement to expand settlements, which he added contravened international law. Mr. Khan said, the planned settlement in E-1, by connecting earlier illegal settlements with other settlements in and around East Jerusalem, would divide the West Bank into two enclaves, and destroy the contiguity of the Palestinian State. It would thus render the two-State solution untenable.
“The contiguity of the Palestinian state has been reaffirmed as an integral part of the peaceful resolution of the Middle East conflict in the Quartet Roadmap. All member states of the United Nations, and especially the members of the Quartet are, therefore, guarantors of the two-State solution”, he highlighted.
Stating 2013 a very crucial year, Mr. Khan said this was likely the last opportunity for the international community to move towards a lasting resolution of the conflict. “Delay does not mean suspension of activity; it is tantamount to abdication of responsibility”.
He urged the Quartet and the Security Council to demonstrate a sense of urgency. If the Quartet could not move forward, countries “with interest and influence in the region” should act to facilitate resumption of the peace process.
He underlined that the Security Council to ensure and monitor implementation of Resolution 1860 as well as other relevant resolutions. Peace in the Middle East has remained a dream for over six decades.
Speaking on Syria, Ambassador Khan said Syrian crisis descended deeper into conflict, severely wracked by internecine violence, the humanitarian crisis continued to grow exponentially. Beyond political rhetoric from the international community, however, there was no progress towards engagement. “The only realities on the ground are continuing carnage and a political stalemate”, adding, “we need a ray of hope, a breakthrough”.
The levers for such a breakthrough were evident: first, both the Syrian Government and the opposition must abandon the mindset that they could win the war militarily; second, engagement was the only viable path; third, regional Powers and key Council members needed to persuade the parties to renounce violence and come to the negotiating table; fourth, supplies of arms must be stopped forthwith; fifth and lastly, humanitarian access needed to be improved to alleviate the suffering of the people.
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