UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has said the Palestinian's success in getting non-member observer state status should not incur any reprisals as Islamabad's ambassador to the United Nations called for an end to illegal settlements on the occupied territories for progress towards Middle East peace.
Pakistan's Permanent Representative Ambassador Masood Khan also voiced the hope that the new status for the long-suffering Palestinians would pave the way for Palestine's recognition as full member.
The landmark vote through a resolution, co-sponsored by Islamabad, marked a clear manifestation and acceptance of realities on the ground, he said.
Ambassador Khan was speaking Friday at the UN General Assembly on "Situation in the Middle East" The Question of Palestine".
On Thursday, the UN General Assembly accorded Palestine "Non-Member Observer State status" in the United Nations. The resolution passed with 138 votes in favor, nine in opposition and 41 abstentions.
Commenting on disappointment shown by some countries over the World Body's last evening decision, the ambassador said the people of Palestine had waited too long for the exercise of their right to self-determination and recognition of legitimate statehood.
He hoped that this decision would not invite reprisals or retaliations against Palestine. "The people of Palestine need compassion and solidarity; not estrangement and punishment. We hope that instead of punitive measures, the emphasis will now shift to the resumption of dialogue for implementing the agreed two-State solution".
Regarding Israel's illegal settlements on Palestinian territories, he said the activity was not only shrinking the window for a two-State solution but was also a major hurdle in realization of peace in the region.
"Israel must heed Secretary General's call to freeze all settlement activity in line with the Quartet road map".
Ambassador Khan warned that any deviation from two-state solution would have unpredictable and disastrous consequences.
As the window of opportunity for a two-state solution continues to narrow, there is urgency to reactivate the Middle East peace process, based on internationally agreed terms of reference, including Security Council resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative, the Quartet Roadmap and the Madrid principles.
The Permanent Representative said for a serious quest for peace and a two-State solution, construction of illegal settlements must cease.
"The Secretary General has noted that 43% of the West Bank has been allocated to local and regional settlement councils, with the result that those areas are off-limits to Palestinians, leaving the Palestinian territory divided into enclaves with little or no territorial contiguity".
Ambassador Khan termed the blockade of Gaza a violation of Security Council Resolution 1860.
"We call for urgent end to this policy of collective punishment being meted out to 1.5 million Palestinians."
The immobility of the Quartet leaves the people of Palestine with little hope.
The winds of change blowing through the wider region demand that the Palestinians get a fair and just dispensation about their destiny.
"Pakistan believes that comprehensive peace in the Middle East will remain elusive without creation of an independent, viable and contiguous state of Palestine, based on pre-1967 borders with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. Resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including through the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanese territories and the Syrian Golan is the only guarantee of sustainable peace in the region."