Plenary of the 70th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
On Agenda Item 37: Situation in the Middle East
Statement by Mr Jeffrey Salim Waheed,
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations
New York, 23 November 2015
Thank you Mr. President,
On behalf of the Republic of Maldives I wish to express our deep appreciation to the Secretary General for his reports on this agenda item and to the continuing efforts of his Good Offices and his representatives towards finding lasting solution to the various conflicts that still plague the region of the Middle East.
On 30th of September, we welcomed the raising of the Palestinian flag here at the United Nations. This marked an important step forward and a beacon of hope for the Palestinian people in their quest for self-determination. The Maldives reiterates its call for the full realization of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people: the right of Palestinian people to establish their own State, alongside Israel, on the basis of the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
For 67 years, this organization has failed Palestine and the Palestinian people. This failure epitomizes the inability of the international community to work together to bring an end to the Palestinian conflict. The countless UN resolutions, the Madrid Principles, the Oslo Accords, the Arab Peace initiative and the Quartet Roadmap strive to overcome the Israeli occupation and the apartheid system in place. These strove to change the mind-sets of the generations that have grown up in an atmosphere of hatred, fear and violence. Nonetheless, the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the incessant violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people continue unchecked.
In recent months, the violence in the occupied territories has increased dramatically. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, in his report this year, emphasized that the Israeli policies and practices related to settlements continue to be central to most violations of the human rights of Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The Special Rapporteur urged Palestinians to leave their homes and lands, especially in Area C and East Jerusalem, where most settlements are concentrated. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the transfer by the occupying Power of its civilians into occupied territory. The increasingly hostile and aggressive political rhetoric employed by Israel and the imposed physical and demographic alterations to the occupied Palestinian territories continue to reduce the chances of finding a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The window for a peaceful solution that takes into account the demands and needs of all sides continues to close, and the United Nations and the international community need to take meaningful action.
Palestine's neighbors and countries in the region are currently facing one of their biggest threats in the shape of so-called Islamic State. The conflict in Syria is causing an unending web of violence and destabilization to the entire Middle East region. This conflict and the international community's failure to act, led to the birth of the so-called Islamic State who uses the Islamic religion to legitimize the violence they are committing and the relentless violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
These acts of barbarity committed in the name of Islam are inhumane and un-Islamic. This so-called Islamic State represents the greatest emerging threat to the international community. The international community has failed to take concrete actions to bring an end to the violence. Today, after the terrorist attacks in France, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, and Mali, we must take a firm stand and have a unified voice against this so-called Islamic State to bring an end to the conflict in Syria and end the recruitment and financing of this so-called Islamic State. The flow of foreign terrorist fighters needs to be stopped. Countering the financing of this group and the flow of weapons will aid in its ultimate destruction. The only solution to this conflict is a political one where all stakeholders come to the table and find a solution jointly.
The humanitarian consequences of this conflict have been dire. By mid-2014, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that 10.8 million of Syria's 22 million population was affected by the conflict and in need of humanitarian assistance, including 6.5 million who are internally displaced. The Syrian conflict has spurred the world's largest refugee crisis. Men, women and children are fleeing incessant violence, conflict and persecution, searching for a better future. This refugee crisis took a global dimension when thousands of individuals began flooding into Europe. It is however essential to note that the first countries to be affected by this crisis were Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. For the past 5 years, these countries have borne the burden of this crisis with their population increasingly drastically: Lebanon today hosts more than 1.3 million refugees and Turkey more than 1.5 million according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It is notable that this increase in Lebanon represents a quarter of its population before the outbreak of conflict. These countries have been unable to handle this influx of refugees and the international community's failure to act have led to this matter becoming a threat to the peace and security of these states.
My delegation cannot stress enough the importance of political compromise and the productive engagement of the international community to resolve the conflicts in the Middle East. The nuclear deal agreed and signed between Iran and the P5+1 represents a sign of hope that issues of tension can be resolved in a peaceful and diplomatic manner. We welcome this agreement and look forward to it being concretely put into action. Along the same spirit, the Maldives looks forward for the United Nations and the international community to bring renewed efforts towards lasting solution to a region that has been mired in strife for far too long.