UNITED NATIONS - With the ongoing conflict in Syria dominating headlines, Pakistan has stressed the urgent need for keeping the focus on the goal of realizing an independent Palestinian State to usher peace in the troubled Middle East region."Despite other important developments taking place in the region, the Palestinian issue must retain its primacy," Ambassador Masood Khan, Pakistan's permanent representative to the UN, said in his first speech to the Security Council on Monday after the assumption of his new assignment."It (the Palestinian issue) should not be allowed to be eclipsed or sidelined," the Pakistani envoy said while participating in a debate on the Middle East situation. "There is evidence that the illegal Israeli settlement policy has remained the biggest roadblock to the resumption of the Middle East peace process," he said. Ambassador Masood Khan said Pakistan supported the Palestinian peoples’ rights, an independent State, and admission of Palestine as a full United Nations member. Meantime, he endorsed the Palestinian Authority’s initiative to become a “Non-member observer State” and he respected the Palestinian Authority’s decision about the initiative’s timing.Expressing disappointment that the secretary-General’s report on the Palestinian issue indicated little headway in the past year, he said the lack of progress was undermining the two-State solution and there was evidence that Israel’s settlements policy was the biggest road block to the resumption of peace talks.In Gaza, he added, the illegal blockade of the territory and the collective punishment of the Gaza population must cease.  The Council should take note of the growing threat caused by the lack of political perspective for Palestinian youth and the continuing settler attacks onMuslim and Christian holy sites that were fuelling violence.The Palestinian Authority’s state-building efforts had been widely applauded, the Pakistani envoy said. Its steps to build robust state institutions and revive the economy had brought security and economic improvements. Palestine’s admission to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a member last year was yet another recognition of the success of those efforts.Ambassador Masood Khan said that core issues and questions must be addressed for a lasting peace. He called for a solution in line with relevant Council resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative, the Madrid Principles and the Quartet Road Map. Resolution of final status issues should lead to an independent, viable Palestinian State based on pre-1967 borders.Israel should withdraw from all occupied lands, including those in Lebanon and the Syrian Golan, he added.To achieve Palestinian statehood, the Pakistani envoy said, the international community, led by the diplomatic Quartet -- comprising the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States -- should re-engage and refocus on the Palestinian question; direct, meaningful negotiations should resume and the cycle of violence must stop.In addition, he called for bolstered efforts to address the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and for the Council to monitor and implement its own resolutions, in order to maintain peace and security in the sensitive region.Turning to the crisis in Syria, ambassador Masood Khan said that an early peaceful solution of the situation, in full respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity, was in the best interest of the Syrian people; and for peace and stability in the region.