Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has asserted that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will no longer be in a position to “fudge” the Palestine issue any longer and will have to take a decision.
In an interview that was recorded after a 193-member emergency UN General Assembly (UNGA) meeting on the Palestine issue and aired on Turkish television channel TRT on Monday, Qureshi said the recent episode of Israel’s aggression on Palestine had jolted into action people who had been sitting on the fence.
The reaction around the world, he said, was “not expected”.
“Nobody expected that OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) would be galvanised into action, the Arab League would be galvanised, NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) would be mobilised and it would result in a special emergency session of the general assembly,” the foreign minister said, adding that “an unprecedented session has taken place today.”
The session, which was held last week on the call of the OIC and Arab League, saw Qureshi urging the UNSC to issue a call for an end to Israel's devastating violence against the Palestinians in Gaza, saying "it is time to say enough."
He reiterated the same during his interview to TRT.
The session will send a very clear message to the Security Council that “enough is enough” and that people who believed in fundamental rights must speak up, he emphasised. “They cannot sit on the fence anymore.”
When asked to elaborate on the action he wanted the UNGA, UNSC and UN Security Council to take, Qureshi replied: “The first thing they need to do is get a ceasefire.”
He said his one-point agenda of attending the UNGA meeting was to stress the need for a ceasefire.
“Once that is achieved, the rest will flow from it.”
A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was achieved a day after the emergency UNGA session, ending a bruising 11 days of violence that caused widespread destruction in the Gaza Strip and brought life in much of Israel to a standstill. The truce brokered by Egypt was agreed upon following mounting international pressure to stem the bloodshed which erupted on May 10.
However, just hours later, Israeli police had fired stun grenades towards Palestinians who had thrown rocks and petrol bombs at officers outside Jerusalem's flashpoint, Al Aqsa Mosque.
In his interview with TRT, Qureshi was also asked about the mention of an international protection force during his address in the UNGA meeting.
Qureshi told the interviewer that foreign ministers of OIC member states who were physically present in New York on the day would be meeting the UNGA president and propose the constitution of such a force to him.
“We will be floating the idea and discussing the modalities of that with the president of the general assembly,” he said.
He was further asked about his views on the United States being accountable for Israel’s aggression against Palestinians, in reply to which he said, “The only power that they [Israel] would listen to is the United States.”
The foreign minister added that the US had influence over Israel and it should play a more active role in convincing Israel that what it was doing was not acceptable to the world.
To another question, Qureshi drew parallels between the situation in Palestine and Indian-occupied Kashmir.
He said people in occupied Kashmir were demanding the right to self-determination and so were Palestinians, that people in Kashmir were crying about demographic restructuring and Palestinians too were fearing demographic restructuring, and while people in Kashmir were worried about ethnic cleansing, what was being witnessed in Palestine was ethnic cleansing.
“[The] Palestinian cause is one of the oldest items on the Security Council agenda… the other one which is equally old [is] Kashmir. Look at the similarities.”