NEW YORK: Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi has welcomed political reconciliation between Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas.
Speaking in a debate on the situation in the Middle East, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi said this positive development was not enough to tip scales of justice in favour of their long-suffering under Israeli occupation.
“The international community must renew its resolve to sustain positive momentum and, as a first step, the illegal and oppressive siege of Gaza by Israel must be lifted,” she told the UN Security Council.
She said that lack of progress on the Palestinian issue had not only betrayed the hopes and aspirations of generations of Palestinians, it had also sown the seeds of endless hostility and discord in the region.
“On the fiftieth anniversary of the illegal occupation of their homeland, the aspirations of the Palestinian people to live a life with freedom and dignity still remain a distant and elusive ideal,” the Pakistan envoy said.
Ambassador Lodhi said a viable, independent and contiguous State of Palestine on the basis of internationally agreed parameters, the pre-1967 borders and with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, was the only sustainable guarantee for enduring peace in the Middle East.
“Yet this vision is consistently being undermined by the illegal Israeli settlements in occupied territories,” Maleeha said, while deploring the practice of dispossessing Palestinians of their homes and displacing them from their lands and livelihoods, in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
“Any unilateral attempts by Israel to alter or re-engineer the existing status quo in the old city of Jerusalem, is an unacceptable provocation for billions of Muslims around the world, and must cease,” the Pakistani envoy said, noting that this was highlighted again during tensions surrounding the holy al- Aqsa mosque in July.
“Creating ‘alternate facts on the ground cannot change historic realities or neutralize the legal rights of people living under foreign occupation, in Palestine, and elsewhere,” she said.
A just peace in Palestine was a fundamental pre-condition for global peace and security, Maleeha said while emphasizing that a two-state solution was an “absolutely imperative” as there was no “Plan B” for the region.
On Iraq, she reaffirmed Pakistan’s unequivocal support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the brotherly Iraqi people. “We are convinced that a solution to Iraq’s problems must be found within a united and inclusive Iraqi state, recognizing and reconciling the interests of all Iraqi people.”
Referring to the continuing crisis in Syria, Ambassador Lodhi said Syrian-led and a Syrian-driven process of political reconciliation was the only pathway to lasting peace in that country, with intra-Syrian talks pivotal towards that end. “We hope that the parties will show the necessary flexibility and compromise to bridge their differences.”
Noting the “grim” situation in Yemen, she said, fifteen million people in the country lack adequate access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene, while seven million are faced with the threat of famine, exacerbated by over 800,000 suspected cases of cholera. “This demands both a surge in diplomacy as well as humanitarian support to the millions of people in need across that country.”