UNITED NATIONS: Expressing solidarity with the people of Palestine, Pakistan has called on Israel to halt the “frantic surge” in building Jewish settlements in occupied territories so as to give the fragile Israeli-Palestinian talks a chance to succeed.
“The international community should not remain silent, while Palestine continues to disappear before our eyes,” Ambassador Masood Khan told the UN General Assembly.
Pakistan, he said, believes that resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including through the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanese territories and the Syrian Golan, would usher in sustainable peace in the region.
Speaking in a debate on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East, the Pakistani envoy said the peace talks must not be allowed to break down.
Masood Khan said the four obstacles impeding the success of the Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations must be removed in order to move forward: The two independent States, Israel and Palestine, with their border drawn prior to the 1967 war, should plan to live side by side in peace and security, with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian State’s capital. Israel must wind back its plans for expansion of illegal settlements, which Tel Aviv knew as the “single biggest impediment to peace talks”.
The increased demolitions and displacements in the occupied territories, especially East Jerusalem, must be stopped, he went on to say. Further, the collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza meted out each day must end. Less than 200 people per day had been allowed out of Gaza in the first half of 2013, compared to around 26,000 before the blockade.
In addition, 19 out of 20 United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) projects had ground to a halt, the Pakistani envoy said. Despite all of that, the Palestinians’ historic compromise of recognizing Israel as a State and agreeing to settle for only 22 per cent of its territory should be applauded and considered an important construct for negotiations, he added.
The Pakistani envoy urged the international community to help the Palestinian Authority’s ambitious plan of building infrastructure and institutions for the future Palestinian State.