Statement delivered by 

Ms Farzana Zahir, Deputy Permanent Representative  

at UNSC Open Debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question

26 April 2018 

Mr. President,  

The Maldives wishes to begin by emphasising the importance of this continuing debate at the Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Question of Palestine. Given the constant evolution of the political dynamics and the situation on the ground, this thematic debate provides an important forum to take stock of, and assess the pathway, for sustainable peace in the Middle East. I wish to thank the presenters at this debate for their contributions, which have contextualised the present state of affairs. 

Peace in the Middle East can never be realised without a viable solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict, which has destabilized the region for seventy years. Taking note of the report presented to the Council last month by the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, the Maldives condemns in the strongest terms the new wave of violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  

It is evident from the progressive activities on expanding settlement, that there is a need to respect the principles of international law, and abide by the relevant resolutions of the Security Council. The impunity with which violence is perpetrated and the continued violation of international norms sets a dangerous precedent, which have far-reaching consequences for maintaining peace and security in the future. 

Mr. President, 

The Maldives has always been a strong advocate for resolution of disputes and conflict through peaceful means: by exploring new and innovative solutions for persistent conflicts, and finding this common ground through mutual dialogue. In this regard, the Maldives welcomes and supports the proposal by President Mahmoud Abbas to the Council in February for an international peace conference, aimed at resuming peace talks between the two, Palestine and Israel. We applaud Palestine’s willingness and leadership to begin this dialogue, and strongly urge Israel to engage in these talks in good faith.  

The Maldives also acknowledges the fact that this is a dispute, which has many dimensions, impacting many actors in the international community. Therefore, we encourage all parties and stakeholders concerned, to contribute to these negotiations, as appropriate, in the most constructive and conducive manner.  

In addition to taking assertive political action for resolving the conflict, my delegation also wishes to emphasise the importance of enhancing action on the ground to alleviate the suffering of people on the ground. In this regard we welcome the relief and aid efforts from the United Nations, Member States, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. We note with concern the $446 million funding gap for the UN Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA), and urge Member States to address this issue, taking into account the wide range of support provided for the Palestinian people by this Agency. 

Mr. President,  

The Maldives reiterates its call for a two state solution recognizing the sovereign and independent State of Palestine, based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. My delegation urges the Security Council to take more concrete actions to fulfil its mandates, and encourages all Member States to engage in a form of debate, which will deliver the end results necessary to establish and maintain sustainable peace in Palestine and in the Middle East. 

Mr. President,  

On the question of Syria, we remain concerned. We need to urgently address the humanitarian situation in Syria, protecting its citizens from further pain, fear and uncertainty. We remain confident in the ability of this Council to deliver the result that is required in Syria – a lasting ceasefire, and sustainable peace. And we remain committed to doing our part, lending our voice and joining the chorus of actors supporting lasting peace in the country.  

We need to work together, to find meaningful solutions to the many situations of violence and instability in the Middle East. We need to focus on sustaining peace, so that societies ravaged by war and conflict, may progress again. State failure has the potential to derail any peace process. We believe that, whether it is through strengthening the capacity of State Institutions, or through eradication of poverty, or through addressing other determinants of conflict, such as lack of access to resources, or natural and man-made disasters and climate risk, we need to focus on building the capacity of States, and to build the resilience of States.  

Mr President,  

The Maldives will continue to stand with the people of the Middle East – a region which is close to our hearts, and a region with which we share many cultural, religious and historic ties. The Maldives will remain committed to working with all our partners on this important and historical issue, to find shared solutions, so that the suffering of people in the various conflict zones in the region can be brought to an end through peaceful means. We will work with our partner countries, international organizations and other important actors to bring lasting peace to our shared destiny.

I thank you.