Statement by

HE Dr Mohamed Asim, Minister of Foreign Affairs

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

25 January 2018 

Thank you Mr President,

I wish to thank Kazakhstan in its capacity as the President of the Security Council, for convening today’s open debate on the situation in the Middle East. This is my first time, since assuming office in 2016, to address the Council, and it is only right that it would be on an issue that the Government and the people of Maldives, have historically attached particular importance to: the Middle East and the question of Palestine.  

Mr President,  

We started the year 2017 with hope, for the people of Palestine. The adoption of Resolution 2334 (2016), the first Security Council Resolution on the Palestinian issue in almost a decade, was the last of many Resolutions to reaffirm the illegality of Israeli occupation and settlements in Palestine. The Resolution called on States to distinguish in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. It was a step forward in the Security Council, demonstrating the international support addressing the predicament of the Palestinian people.  

Yet, the year ended with decisions that shook the foundations of this critical work. This Council has long ago, declared null and void, through resolutions 476 and 478 (1980), the Israeli occupation of the State of Palestine, the annexation of the Holy City of Jerusalem, shifting of the Israeli capital to Jerusalem, and the decision by any country to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and shifting their embassies to the Holy Land. Yet, we seem to not be able to reach consensus in this Council, on a matter previously agreed to, and which enjoys near-universal support. This is an unfortunate situation for the Council’s effectiveness and for its legitimacy.  

The Maldives has always believed that an independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its Capital, established on the 1967 borders, living side-by-side, in peace and harmony with Israel, is the best, and the only solution to this seven-decade conflict. It is unacceptable that in the twenty-first century, long when imperialism has gone out of fashion, the occupation of Palestinian lands continues.  

We call on Israel to fully implement the decisions of this Council, and respect the legal obligations under the United Nations Charter. We urge the Security Council to do more, to address this continuing situation, to bring lasting peace to the people of Palestine.  

Mr President,  

We are encouraged that the Secretary-General has identified the seven-year long situation in Syria, as one of his priority areas for 2018. Since the start of the conflict, hundreds and thousands of people have been killed, or driven out of their homes. Homes, livelihoods, hospitals, schools, and basic infrastructure have been reduced to rubble. Fear and uncertainty have manifested in the hearts of the Syrian people. While we recognise the progress being made in finding an end to the conflict, with the all-Syria congress expected to be convened at the end of this month, much more remains to be done. These little seeds of hope that we have planted last year must grow tall and healthy.  

Hope must also be cultivated in the hearts of our brothers and sisters in Yemen – suffering the worst famine in years, and in Libya, where violence still prevails. Peace is a pre-requisite, and a consequence of development, and we must do our part, in finding constructive and lasting solutions in these countries.  

The threat of terrorism and violent extremism continue to grow. Terrorists do not pay heed to borders, do not distinguish between the young or old, women or men, nor respect any religion or culture. We can only beat them by being better, being smarter; by countering violence with hope, misinformation with truth, ignorance with enlightenment. This is why we need to pay much more attention to the enabling factors, cooperating across borders, sharing information and strategies, on how to address the root causes in a meaningful and sustainable way.   

Mr President,  

We need to work together, with the countries concerned and the people affected, to find meaningful solutions to the many situations of violence and instability in the Middle East. At the same time, we need to focus on sustaining peace, maintaining stability and security, so that conflict does not erupt again.  

We believe that a key approach would be to focus on State building in our peacekeeping and peace building efforts. State failure has the potential to derail any peace process. If we take stock of the variety of conflicts in front of us, there is a clear need for strengthening of the institutions of the State to address conflict and sustain peace: whether it be through strengthening capacity of State institutions to ensure meaningful checks and balances, or through the eradication of poverty and developing sustainably, or through addressing other determinants of conflict, such as the dearth of resources, or exposure to natural and man-made risks.  

In order to do so, the Security Council, in considering approaches to conflict resolution ought to look at the wide plethora of tools available across the United Nations system, and not just military options. This would not only enable a more holistic approach to conflict resolution, but also a more lasting one. It would also, in many cases, ensure a more organic approach, rather than a top-down one.  

Mr President,  

The Security Council always has our support in crafting lasting solutions to the many conflicts that face our world today. Especially in Palestine and the Middle East, a region with which we share many cultural, religious, and historic ties. The Maldives will remain a partner you can count on, as we find shared solutions for our shared destiny.  I thank you, Mr President.