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UNITED NATIONS, Jan 24 (APP):Pakistan has told the UN Security Council that Israel’s “unabated” building of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory was a setback to peace in the Middle East, while underscoring the need for a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Speaking in a debate on the Middle East situation, Pakistani delegate Saad Ahmad Warraich echoed Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for a “surge in diplomacy” in 2019 to meet the expectations of people round the world with UN, and said nowhere was such a move more urgent than in the Middle East, especially in Palestine.

“We should not fail the Palestinian people,” he told the 15-member Council.
Last week’s assumption by Palestine of the chairmanship of the Group of 77 was not only a vote of confidence by the international community on its ability to steer the biggest block of developing nations at the UN, but also an “expression of solidarity with the long-suffering Palestinian people”, Warraich, a counsellor at the Pakistan Mission to the UN, said.
Citing diminishing hope among Palestinians against the backdrop of the UN Special Coordinator for Middle East peace, Nicolay Mlandenov’s grim assessment regarding a viable State of Palestine, the Pakistani delegate said Israel’s expanded illegal settlements — which are worsening the situation — are emblematic of a blatant disregard for international law and the global community’s will, including resolution 2334 (2016).
“Creating ‘alternative facts’ on the ground cannot change historic realities or neutralize the legal rights of people living under foreign occupation,” he stressed. “It is also a setback to peace and a retreat from a two-state ‘solution’ to a one-state ‘reality’, ” Warraich said, adding that the suffering of civilians in Gaza represents a moral outrage and must end.
A viable, independent and contiguous State of Palestine based on internationally agreed parameters is the only path to assuring sustainable peace, the Pakistani delegate added.
Meanwhile, he said, sufficient and predictable funding to UNRWA is imperative, as are the intra-Syrian political process and diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in Yemen.