In his address to the UN General Assembly, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi laid bare the Israeli atrocities during the past few days, saying that, “Driven by arrogance and emboldened by impunity, Israel has mounted a relentless onslaught on the occupied and beleaguered people of Palestine. As we speak, children, women, and men in Palestine are being killed with impunity. In one week of Israeli attacks, over 250 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured; one third are women and children.”
He said that so far, over 50,000 Palestinians have fled their homes in Gaza. There is limited access to water, food, hygiene and health services. Hospitals and access to water and sanitation services depend on electricity but the fuel for the power plants has almost run out.
“Gaza is plunged in darkness, literally and metaphorically. The only light is that of Israeli explosions”, said the FM.
Qureshi said that the Israeli airstrikes, in full view of the world, bring down entire buildings to kill and terrorize innocent Palestinians and even silence the media.
Turning his attention towards the Security Council, Shah Mahmood said that it was appalling that the Council had been unable to exercise its primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security, adding that it had even failed to demand a cessation of hostilities.
“Those preventing the council from doing so bear a heavy responsibility”, he said.
Shah Mahmood urged the General Assembly to assume its own responsibility and not fail the Palestinian people at this critical juncture.
He said the General Assembly’s first priority must be to halt the Israeli aggression and hoped that even at this eleventh hour, the Security Council will call for a cessation of Israeli attacks. If it fails to do so, the General Assembly must make this demand on behalf of the entire International community, he added.
“Let it be clear, there is no moral or military equivalence between the beleaguered and occupied Palestinian people, who have no army, no navy, no air force and the Israeli war machine, one of the most powerful in the world. This is a war between a military occupier and an occupied people. It is a conflict between illegal occupation and a legitimate struggle for self-determination”, said the FM.
Secondly, he called on the General Assembly to mobilize all possible humanitarian help for the devastated population in Gaza and other parts of the occupied territories. In addition, he demanded a comprehensive humanitarian plan to provide assistance to the Palestinians, including medical teams, medicine, food and other necessities to Gaza and other parts of the occupied Palestinian territories.
He welcomed the access being provided by Egypt to Gaza and demanded that Israel must also open all access points to Gaza to ensure the urgent delivery of international assistance.
Thirdly, he called for concrete steps to protect the Palestinians with the deployment of an international protection force, as was called for in the GA resolution ES-10/20 and as demanded by the Islamic summit conference on May 18, 2018.
He added that if the Security Council cannot agree to send the protection force, a coalition of the willing can be formed to provide at least civilian observers to monitor a cessation of hostilities and supervise the provision of humanitarian help to the Palestinians.
He also called on the Secretary General and the High Commission of Human Rights to offer protection to Israel’s Arab citizens who are being lynched and murdered by fascist Israeli gangs at the present time.
Fourthly, he called for the condemnation of Israel’s forcible and illegal eviction of Palestinians including in Al-Jarrah district of Jerusalem and continued construction of Jewish settlements, the onslaught against Palestinian worshippers in Haram Al-Sharif and Al-Aqsa mosque, the first Qiblah of Islam, during the month of Ramadan and Israel’s brutal and indiscriminate aerial and land bombardment of Gaza.
“Israel’s crimes against humanity should not escape accountability”, he added.
He said that there should be no impunity for violation of international law, including the fourth Geneva Convention and other human rights conventions. The Human Rights Council (HRC), the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the International Court of justice (ICJ) and other avenues should be activated to ensure Israeli accountability for its war crimes, he said.
Qureshi’s fifth demand was to revive concrete efforts to end Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and to dismantle the illegal settlements and the apartheid-like regime Israel has imposed in the occupied territories.
He said that it was therefore imperative to initiate bold steps to secure the implementation of UN resolutions calling for the establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian state with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, adding that Pakistan endorses Palestine President Abbas’s call for an international conference to secure a peaceful settlement.
The FM said that the Palestinian tragedy was at the heart of the turmoil and the conflicts in the Middle East. It was also the principled root cause of the humiliation and anger in the Muslim and Arab world; anger which breeds extremism and often spawns acts of violence.
“A just solution for Palestine is imperative for the maintenance of regional and global peace and security”, he said.
Concluding his address, Shah Mahmood said that the onus for restoring peace clearly rested on Israel. It must end its occupation and it must implement the resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly.
“This session of the assembly must send a clear message to the Palestinian people and to Israel. It is only through determined and decisive action that this Assembly can restore the credibility of the UN and demonstrate its effective role in preserving world peace and global order based on equity and justice”, said Qureshi.