UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has warned the international community that the lack of a two-state solution in Palestine would lead to perpetual conflict in the Middle East.

This warning was voiced at a UN Security Council meeting, which was called on Tuesday to highlight the situation in Israeli-occupied territories and where even nations with frequent disagreements such as Pakistan and India, the US, China, and Russia reiterated their support for an independent Palestinian state, days after Israel’s prime minister rejected the two-state solution.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told the council it was time to recognise the state of Palestine at the UN and urged member states to reject the Israeli position on the issue.

“We were not granted a veto right over Israel’s admission to the United Nations 75 years ago,” he said. “Israel does not have a veto right over the admission of the state of Palestine 75 years later.”

The US also assured the global community that it supports a two-state solution as the only durable path to peace. “To achieve this future, the Israeli and Palestinian people, as well as their leaders, must make hard choices,” said Uzra Zeya, US undersecretary of state for civilian security, democracy, and human rights.

Islamabad warns against perpetual conflict in Middle East

“We do not purport to make these decisions for them. But we believe strongly that if they are willing to pursue these goals, they can help usher in an era where Palestinians and Israelis can live side by side in peace,” she said.

China’s permanent representative to the UN, Zhang Jun, emphasised the necessity for the UNSC to reaffirm the urgency of the two-state solution in resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Several Arab and Muslim nations expressed support for an international conference to take up the issue, as did Russia’s foreign minister. “The objective of such a conference would be the proclamation of the Palestinian state; coming up with measures to ensure reliable security for Israel; and the normalization of Israel’s relations with all Arab states, and also Muslim states, as a whole,” Sergey Lavrov said.

Pakistan’s Ambassador Munir Akram said a two-state solution was the “only viable option for peace not just between Israel and Palestine, but Israel and the whole Islamic world,” he said, adding that abandoning this solution “will simply consign the Middle East to perpetual conflict”.

Pointing to Israel’s steadfast opposition to the two-state solution, Ambassador Akram said: “It is now time to address this wanton rejection of peace.”

He called for a new UNSC resolution demanding the complete cessation of hostilities, full access to humanitarian assistance for Gazans, and international protection for the Palestinian people. This revived peace process should take place within the UNSC, with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders, he added.

“If Israel continues to refuse to cooperate, the Council, the General Assembly, and all UN member states must take steps to hold it accountable,” he said. There were ‘numerous precedents’, where pressure could be put on Israel to comply, he added.

The ministerial-level meeting, called by France, currently holding the rotating presidency of the Security Council, was chaired by the Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne.

Indian Ambassador Ravindra Raguttahalli reiterated his country’s “long-standing support” for the two-state solution and urged all parties to de-escalate, shun violence, and avoid provocations.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2024

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