Qureshi contacts Saudi FM to convey 'Pakistan's serious concerns' on Palestine situation

Published May 14, 2021
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi welcomed Saudi Arabia's initiative to convene an emergency meeting of the OIC on Sunday to discuss the "grave situation". — Photos by AP and Reuters
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi welcomed Saudi Arabia's initiative to convene an emergency meeting of the OIC on Sunday to discuss the "grave situation". — Photos by AP and Reuters

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi contacted Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud on Friday to express "Pakistan's serious concerns" on the "grave situation" in Palestine, according to a statement from the Foreign Office (FO).

"FM Qureshi expressed Pakistan’s serious concerns on the storming of the Al Aqsa Mosque and grave human rights violations.

"He condemned the continued attacks by the Israeli Defence Forces against the Palestinians, in particular innocent civilians and children, adding that the Israeli acts defied all norms of humanity and international law," said the statement.

It added that Qureshi also recalled the Pakistan-Saudi Arabia joint statement issued during PM Imran Khan's recent visit to the country, recalling that the statement included the shared perspective of the two countries on the Palestinian issue.

"The foreign minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s full support for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, especially their right to self-determination and establishment of their independent state with pre-1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and relevant UN resolutions."

The Saudi foreign minister, in turn, also expressed his reservations on the "serious developments in Palestine" and briefed FM Qureshi on the initiatives being taken to address the situation.

Qureshi further welcomed Saudi Arabia's initiative to convene an emergency meeting of the Organi­sation of Islamic Cooperation's (OIC) executive committee at the foreign ministers' level on May 16 (Sunday) and assured his Saudi counterpart of "Pakistan’s unequivocal support for the just cause of Palestine".

"Expressing gratitude for the warm Saudi hospitality during the prime minister’s recently concluded visit, FM Qureshi apprised his counterpart of the post-visit telephone call between Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques His Majesty King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, during which the two leaders also conferred on the serious situation in Palestine and the need for urgent steps to address it.

"The two foreign ministers agreed to continue close consultations and coordination on the evolving situation in Palestine," said the statement.

Qureshi had said on Wednesday that Pakistan was concerned about the recent violence in Palestine and that Muslims countries needed to unite in order to raise awareness about the issue.

"We can raise our voices individually [but] the issue will be noted when all 57 OIC members voice their support. A lone Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia can't do anything," he had said.

Palestinians flee amid Israeli attacks on Gaza

Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque on the 27th of Ramazan earlier this month after Palestinians' resistance to forced evictions from the East Jerusalem neighnourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

In response to tear gas and shelling at Islam's third holiest site on Laylatul Qadr, rockets were fired at Israel by Hamas from Gaza, to which Israel responded by a barrage of air strikes on Monday, which have intensified in six days since then.

Around 120 Palestinians, including dozens of children and women, have been killed by Israeli forces in the past week with several neighbourhoods and apartment buildings destroyed.

On Friday, Palestinians grabbed their children and belongings and fled neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Gaza City as Israel unleashed a heavy barrage of artillery fire and airstrikes, killing a family of six in their home. Israel said it was clearing a network of militant tunnels ahead of a possible ground invasion.

Israel has massed troops along the border and called up 9,000 reservists as fighting intensifies with Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military has launched more than 600 airstrikes, toppling at least three high-rise apartment buildings, and has shelled some areas with tanks stationed near the frontier.

The Gaza Health Ministry said the toll from the fighting has risen to 119 killed, including 31 children and 19 women, with 830 wounded. Palestinians living outside Gaza City, near the northern and eastern frontiers with Israel, fled the intense artillery bombardment on Friday. Families arrived at the UN-run schools in the city in pick-up trucks, on donkeys and by foot, hauling pillows and pans, blankets and bread.

Additional input by AP.



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