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The United Nations Security Council.—Reuters (File Photo)

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has called on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to hold Israel accountable for its continued defiance of international efforts to bring about a just settlement of the Middle East dispute.

“Flying in the face of the international community’s will, Israel continues to implement policies in defiance of international law, and work towards undermining the basis of the two-state solution,” Ambassador Raza Bashir Tarar, acting Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, told the Security Council.

“Its (Israel’s) efforts to redraw the map of Palestine through continuation of illegal settlement activity, continued persecution of Palestinians and reluctance to accept the 1967 borders as the basis for negotiations, is taking the region to a state akin to a powder keg,” he said in a debate on the Middle East situation.

“We reiterate that continued inaction by the international community is not an option.”

The Pakistani envoy supported Palestinians’ right to self-determination, as well as the creation of an independent fact-finding mission in the ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories’, including East Jerusalem.

He noted that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s February visit to the region was a “timely initiative” that would help re-focus international attention on the festering dispute.

Tarar strongly condemned the April 4 announcement of new tenders for over 1,100 Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem.

These actions represent major roadblocks to peace, he said.

The Middle East diplomatic quartet – comprising the UN, European Union (EU), Russia and the United States – had reaffirmed its commitment to all elements of its road map, but he said it was disconcerting that its statement focused more on the financial viability of the Palestinian Authority than on settlements as a basis for starting negotiations.

For its part, the Security Council should help create the conditions for restarting the peace process, the Pakistani envoy said and hold Israel accountable for its defiance.

Tarar pointed out that more than 4,700 Palestinians languished in Israeli prisons and the international community should force the occupying Power to amend its ways.

Israel’s blockade of Gaza was diminishing the economic prospects of that area. Still Palestine had proved it was ready to take its place among the community of nations, he said.

“The region is in turmoil, and the Arab Spring cannot and would not bloom fully without fulfillment of the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people,” the Pakistani envoy said. “Benign neglect, inaction, complicity with oppression or apathy will only discredit the advocates of peace and strengthen the narrative of extremists.”