UNITED NATIONS - Pakistan has underscored the need for settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to accomplish peace in the Middle East as well as to deal with some of the drivers of extremism and terrorism.

“It is this conflict that has contributed most significantly to the anger and frustration in the Arab and Islamic world,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the General Assembly on Wednesday, while reaffirming Pakistan's "unwavering" solidarity with the people of Palestine. "The resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is essential for peace and stability throughout the Middle East," she added.

Speaking in a debate on the question of Palestine,  the Pakistani envoy said that the continuing expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands, the blockade of Gaza, the provocations around the Holy Al Aqsa Mosque and the continued imprisonment of Palestinians represented real and present obstacles to a two-State solution, and a willful defiance of the international consensus that the only viable option for durable peace lies in such a solution.

"They are also a testimony to the fact that the occupying power is being emboldened by the lack of resolute action by the international community."

The right to return of the 5.2 million Palestinian refugees, forcibly displaced from their homes nearly 70 years ago, was pivotal to the vision of a peaceful and stable Middle East, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the 193-mmber Assembly.

Expropriation of Palestinian lands and continued expansion of illegal settlements in occupied territory was another egregious Israeli inequity, in total defiance of its international obligations, she said. And the collective punishment meted out through the blockade of Gaza, now in its ninth year, continues to wreak havoc on the lives of the residents of the enclave, she added.

Despite countless United Nations resolutions, nothing had been able to transform that grim reality, the Pakistani envoy said, emphasising that “renewed demands for recognition of the State of Palestine are a clarion call that must be heeded”.

Inaction on the Security Council’s part undermined its own credibility and weakened the ideals espoused by the United Nations, and in that regard, resuming negotiations was the only way forward, she stated.

The Council must live up to its obligations and responsibilities, and summon the political courage and vision to adopt a resolution containing parameters and timelines for ending the occupation, she stressed.

On the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights, the Pakistani envoy said withdrawal of occupation forces from all Arab lands, including from Lebanon, was not only vital for the future of the next generation of Palestinians, but for international peace and security.