Islamabad: Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi at a virtually held emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Executive Committee held to discuss the continuing barbarism by the Israeli security forces on innocent, unarmed Palestinians called Israel out for its “continuing air strikes in Gaza that have resulted in deaths and injuries to so many innocent Palestinians.”
The meeting which was held only a day after Israeli Air Force struck down a high-rise building housing media offices of Associated Press and Al-Jazeera and killed 10 members of an extended family in the Gaza Strip, urged the international community to take action and protect the legitimate rights of Palestinians.
Foreign Minister Qureshi chose to speak plainly and frankly, not mincing any words and condemned in the strongest possible terms the systemic and barbaric crimes perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians.
He sought the international community’s attention towards the grave violations of principles underpinned in international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law. “The latest spate of Israeli aggression cannot be justified or condoned,” he said.
While underlining Pakistan’s historic role in advocating the just Palestinian cause, Qureshi said, “Pakistan played a key role during its non-permanent term in the Security Council in 1968-69.” He also mentioned in his introductory remarks that “our founding father Quaid-i-Azam was unrelenting in upholding the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”
“In addition to adopting Pakistan-initiated resolutions 252 and 267, the Security Council also adopted resolution 271 (5 September 1969), also initiated by Pakistan, following the burning of Al-Aqsa Mosque on 5 August 196,” he added while taking pride in his country’s unrelenting support for Palestinians’ fundamental rights.
The latest uptick in violence was caused by Israeli police’s firing of rubber bullets and stun grenades on unarmed Palestinians praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, injuring over 300 civilians including women and children. It was a preemptive measure on part of Israel which foresaw resistance from the families who were illegally forced to evict their homes in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister while highlighting the illegal evictions of Palestinians from their homes, said: “We are also gravely concerned at the continuing expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and expulsion of Palestinians from their properties.”
“The tragedy of forced evictions of Palestinians from the Shaikh Jarrah neighborhood of Al-Quds Al-Shareef is the latest manifestation of the systematic Israeli effort to change the demographic structure; historical and legal status; and Arab-Islamic and Christian character of Al-Quds Al-Shareef. This is patently illegal, immoral and unacceptable,” he added.
Pakistan on Sunday proposed four necessary steps for stopping the ongoing aggression against Palestinian people and their properties by Israeli security forces.
The foreign minister called for immediate action on part of the international community to protect the Palestinians by urgently intervening and taking concerted efforts to stop Israeli atrocities against civilian population in Gaza. “The bombardment in Gaza must be stopped immediately,” he emphasized.
Need for implementing forthwith United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC), United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), and United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolutions was also stressed by Pakistan’s foreign minister as he proposed immediate action by international community to hold Israel accountable for its inhumane actions against innocent Palestinians.
“Israel’s crimes against humanity should not escape accountability. There should be no impunity for Israel’s violation of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention and the various human rights treaties,” FM Qureshi said.
In his fourth point, the foreign minister called the attention of the Muslim Ummah towards the evil attempts by some actors to “create a false equivalence between Israel, the aggressor, and Palestinians, the victims” and said that the OIC should work in unity to dispel such a “deliberately deceptive perception.”
While referring to Saturday’s appalling airstrikes by Israel on the offices of media houses, he said, “Attempts to silence media and reporting, through tyranny, evident from Israel’s horrifying air strike yesterday, bringing down a high rise building in Gaza that housed media outlets is unacceptable.”
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that owes its foundation to the Palestinian struggle for freedom, was reminded of its responsibility towards upholding the cause of Palestinian brothers and sisters once again at this critical juncture as Israel continue to kill innocent civilians in Gaza.
Pakistan which is the chair-in-waiting of the Council of Foreign Ministers at OIC assured the participants of the virtual meeting that “it remains ready to join hands with other OIC Member States in any move to stop the ongoing bloodshed, and restore human dignity and human rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories.”
Pakistan’s unusually strong diplomacy
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, has pursued strong diplomatic efforts towards highlighting the plight of Palestinians in the wake of fresh Israeli barbarism.
In the span of a few days, Qureshi has spoken to foreign ministers of China, Egypt, Turkey, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, and Afghanistan stressing the need for collective efforts towards easing the plight of Palestinians and holding Israel accountable for its illegitimate and inhumane actions.
The country’s leadership has upheld the defining principle of Pakistan’s foreign policy since Pakistan’s inception which is “support for the Palestinian cause”. Prime Minster Imran Khan has also spoken with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Turkish President Rajab Tayyip Erdogan, and the President of Palestine Mahmood Abbas, in this regard.
Earlier Prime Minister Khan said in a tweet: “Strongly condemn Israeli Forces’ attack especially during Ramazan on Palestinians in Qibla-e-Awaal, Al-Aqsa Mosque, violating all norms of humanity and international law. We reiterate support for Palestinian people. International community must take immediate action to protect Palestinians and their legitimate rights.”
This was followed by his call for the need to show solidarity with the Kashmiris and Palestinians who are suffering oppression by Occupation Powers in complete violation of their international guaranteed basic human rights as he conveyed Eid greetings to the Muslim Ummah.