NA unanimously assails US move on Jerusalem

08 Dec 2017

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Israeli cops disperse Palestinian protesters outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday.—AFP
Israeli cops disperse Palestinian protesters outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Natio­nal Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution that “strongly condemned” the US decision of shifting its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, termed it an “attack” on Muslim Ummah, and asked Washington to immediately reverse the decision.

“This is a direct attack on the Muslim Ummah at a time when the Middle East is already beset with wars and conflicts,” said the resolution read out by federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Barjees Tahir on the opening day of the winter session of the National Assembly.

Describing the US move as a “violation of international laws and the UN Security Council resolutions”, the NA resolution “calls on the government to immediately mobilise” the Orga­ni­sation of Islamic Coope­ration (OIC) “into taking concrete diplomatic steps against this US action”.

Achakzai mocks house and wonders how it will save Palestinians when it can’t save its own Constitution

Later, National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq opened a general debate on the issue during which most of the members delivered anti-America speeches, asking the Ummah to take a united stance on the matter as the move could create turmoil not only in the Middle East but in the whole world.

Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Acha­kzai was of the view that the National Assembly had shown haste in passing the resolution because the members should have waited for the outcome of the OIC meeting that had already been convened in Turkey to discuss the matter.

Mr Achakzai ridiculed the passage of the resolution by the assembly and asked how a house that could not save the country’s Constitution, save the Palestinians. He pointed out that a number of members were absent from the house at a time when an important matter of international significance was being discussed there.

Initiating the debate, parliamentary leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party Syed Naveed Qamar warned that the US decision to shift its embassy to Jerusalem could have serious implications. He said the US had taken such a big step by taking advantage of the weaknesses of the Muslim world.

He said the US move would undermine its efforts to eradicate terrorism and establish peace.

Mr Qamar said it seemed that President Donald Trump had made the decision to appease the Zionists who always spent huge money in the US elections.

“The US president has put a big challenge to the Muslim Ummah,” he said.

Parliamentary leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who served as the country’s foreign minister during the PPP government, said the latest decision of President Trump was not just being criticised by the Muslim countries, but also countries like the UK and other allies of Washing­ton had also expressed serious concerns over the move.

Mr Qureshi regretted that the house was discussing such an important matter but the foreign minister was not present in the house. He said that Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif was present with him at a reception that had been hosted in honour of visiting London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

He said that Mr Trump had made the decision using a law that was passed by the US Congress in 1995. He said no US president in the past dared to take such a step as they knew that such a move could cause widespread unrest in the world.

The PTI leader praised the PML-N government for taking a bold stance over the issue. He said that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi should attend the OIC summit scheduled to be held in Turkey on December 13.

He said Pakistan should make efforts to increase pressure on Washington to withdraw its decision.

Maulana Amir Zaman of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) suggested that all the Muslim countries should expel the US diplomats in order to send a strong message to the US. He also asked the government to announce that Pakistan would no longer be a partner to the US in the so-called war on terror.

Others who took part in the debate included Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Aftab Sherpao of the Qaumi Watan Party, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour of the Awami National Party and Sahibzada Tariqullah of the Jamaat-i-Islami.

Interestingly, Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi adjourned the house when PTI’s Shireen Mazari pointed out lack of quorum as a mark of protest when he gave the floor to PTI dissident Dawar Khan Kundi.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued from London, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif said the US decision to recognise the occupied city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel had come “to us as a shock and deep disappointment”.

Condemning the decision, Mr Sharif said the move was a violation of the international laws, dozens of UN resolutions as well as the publicly stated policy of all earlier US presidents.

“To hand over [to Israel] the holy city of Jerusalem, known historically for over millenniums as Al Quds Al Sharif, is to add salt to the wounds of the people who have been suffering untold miseries for 70 years,” he said. “At a time when the world is passing through increasing instability that has spawned discrimination, prejudice and intolerance, for a great power that is also a permanent member of the UN Security Council to have taken an action of this nature is deeply regrettable.”

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2017