Pakistan has called on the United Nations (UN)to respond to the challenges posed by the unilateral moves on the status of Jerusalem and the expanding Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory that have undermined the prospect of peace in the Middle East.

“The United Nations, including the Security Council, have a central role in responding to these challenges,” Ambassador Munir Akram, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, told the 15-member Council on Wednesday.

Speaking in a debate on the Middle East situation, he said the tragedy of Palestine, at the heart of the turmoil in the region, shows no signs of ending amid Israel’s settlement expansion.

“As illegal Israeli settlements expand into the occupied Palestinian territory, the vision of a two-state solution is being systematically reduced into a one-state reality,” Ambassador Akram said.

The principle of land for peace and implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), the Madrid Terms of Reference and the Arab Peace Initiative of 2000 are well-known elements for a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East, he said.

“The international community must continue to promote the aim of creating ‘a viable, democratic sovereign and contiguous Palestinian State living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security’,” the Pakistani envoy added.

Emphasizing that the situation in the Middle East posed a grave threat to international peace and security, the Pakistani envoy said even as old conflicts fester, new threats have emerged.

Pakistan, he said, has sought to defuse tensions between the United States and Iran. On the personal initiative of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi recently visited Tehran, Riyadh and Washington, D.C., underscoring the need for mutual restraint, including recourse to dialogue.

The positive reaction from all sides is encouraging — and perhaps comprises a first step towards broad regional engagement.

“Pakistan will continue to be a partner for peace in the region,” Ambassador Akram told delegates from around the world.

The Security Council’s recent adoption of resolution 2505 (2020) renewing the United Nations Mission in Support of the Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA) is a signal of the international commitment to resolve the crisis in Yemen, the full implementation of which is necessary, he said.

In Syria, he said, the establishment of the Constitutional Committee has raised hopes for an inclusive political settlement and it must be genuinely supported by Syrian parties and international stakeholders.

The recent Berlin conference on Libya must be followed by fulfillment of the pledge by international Powers to enable space for political reconciliation among various factions, the Pakistani envoy said.