It is an honour for me to welcome His Excellency Dr Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine on his first State Visit to the Maldives. We had an extremely fruitful discussion just now in the official talks held between the two countries and in the one-to-one meeting. I am looking forward to hosting President Abbas and his delegation at the State Luncheon tomorrow.

The State Visit by President Abbas provides yet another opportunity for the Maldives to reassure our Palestinian friends of our enduring support for their struggle for establishing the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital on the lands that Israel has occupied since the 1967 war.

I reassured President Abbas of our strong support for the peace process. The Maldives endorses Palestine’s stand that direct peace talks with Israel can only be fruitful when Israel suspends the building of settlements in the West Bank. At the same time, the Maldives also believes that it is only through negotiations that a lasting peace can be found to the conflict between Palestine and Israel. I reiterated to President Abbas our support for a two state solution with Palestine and Israel living side by side at peace, through a negotiated settlement based on the relevant UN resolutions.

I also reassured the President of our support to Palestine’s application for membership of the United Nations. The Maldives would also support Palestine’s membership in any other international organisation.
The Maldives has been a strong supporter of Palestine at the UN Human Rights Council. We have utilised every opportunity at the Council to advocate the rights of the Palestinian people.

There is broad support in the Human Rights Council for these calls. Yet, the world has to realise that without a Palestinian State, there can never be Palestinian rights. International recognition of the State of Palestine is no barrier to the continuation of the peace talks. Rather, it helps to bring a sense of equality to both sides in the negotiations.

The security of Israel is equally important. It is also in the best interest of Israel to see the emergence of a viable and strong Palestine. Only a viable and strong Palestine would enable Israel to achieve its own security.
It is therefore profoundly important, and indeed, necessary that a strong and thriving Palestinian State is established on the lands occupied by Israel since 1967. An independent Palestinian state is necessary for achieving durable peace in the region. Most of all, it is necessary for healing the wounds of the past, and achieving reconciliation based on the principles of justice and equality. These are challenging yet attainable objectives. Given the President’s own extra-ordinary life story, I am confident that these objectives can be achieved under the President’s leadership.

I am very grateful to the President for being here. I am confident that the bonds of friendship that exist between our two countries will continue to grow from strength to strength.