Statement by Ambassador Palitha Kohona
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka
at the Security Council Debate on the Situation
in the Middle East including the Palestinian Question
24th October 2011

Mr. President,

 I join other speakers to commend you for convening this important debate. The Sri Lanka delegation associates itself with the statement made by Egypt on behalf of the NAM.

It is a timely opportunity to focus on the situation in the Middle East, particularly, the Palestinian question; a question that has occupied the attention of this Council for a long time. The developments since our last opportunity to discuss the issue are particularly important.

A peaceful settlement of the Palestinian issue will be one of the defining achievements of this century. It would be an achievement that will reflect our collective will and responsibility to help resolve a question that has occupied the attention of this Council and the UN system over several decades. While the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine remains a laudable goal for the UN, it is an existential necessity for the Palestinian people. Sri Lanka’s position with regard to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian People remains consistent. We hope that the application for admission of the State of Palestine to full membership in the United Nations will receive sympathetic consideration.

Sri Lanka has consistently supported a peaceful settlement to the Palestinian issue and called for the implementation of UN General Assembly Resolutions regarding the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to statehood and the attainment of a two State solution. Our sincere wish is that Israel, Palestine and their neighbours coexist in peace and harmony. Realizing the two State solution would be the greatest “investment in peace” in the region and in our time. 

Mr. President,

Sri Lanka has called upon all parties to ensure a climate conducive to finding a way forward towards the two State solution, which is the only sustainable solution. The key parties involved in the Middle East peace process have called upon all parties to meet their obligations under the peace agreement scrupulously. The situation of Palestinian political prisoners in Israel and resolving this issue is critical to a negotiated settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and as a confidence-building measure.  In this regard, Sri Lanka welcomes the recent exchange of prisoners between the two parties. It is a measure that will generate positive momentum for peace talks. 

My Government is pleased to note the several important developments on the ground in the midst of continued international efforts to create the conditions for the early resumption of negotiations by Israel and Palestine. Palestine has been  successfully completing its state-building programme which has been endorsed by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the United Nations and others, as well as by the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee in Brussels in June and in September in New York. There is internal reconciliation between the relevant local political stakeholders and they have united to pursue their common aspirations. 

Mr. President,

It is our sincere hope that the issues before the Council today will be addressed in a just and equitable manner that will encourage the search for peace. I take this opportunity to commend the work that has been carried out by the UN Agency for Relief and Works for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), for all these years amidst many odds, in assisting millions of Palestinian people in need, especially the people of Gaza. 

Mr. President,

Sri Lanka wishes to reiterate its support for the Palestinian quest for their legitimate, human and national rights.  The Government and people of Sri Lanka would like to reassure you of our continued support and solidarity.

Thank you Mr. President.


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