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World

APP
May 20, 2021

FM Qureshi calls for deployment of international protection force in Gaza

APP
Thu, May 20, 2021
Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressing the 67th plenary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, on May 20, 2021. — Screengrab from UN Web TV broadcast

Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday said the failure of the United Nations Security Council to maintain peace and security in Gaza is "appalling" and called for the deployment of an international protection force to safeguard the besieged Palestinians. 

Speaking during the 67th plenary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York to highlight Israeli atrocities against Palestinians on Thursday, FM Qureshi said that the inability of the UN Security Council to maintain peace and security in Gaza is "appalling," adding that the 15-member body had even failed to demand a cessation of hostilities.

The foreign minister stressed that the United Nations General Assembly, must then, assume its own responsibility and help the people of Palestine.

"We must not fail the Palestinian people at this critical juncture," he said.

"Those preventing the Council from doing so bear a heavy responsibility," the foreign minister said in an obvious reference to the repeated blocking by the United States of a statement calling for an end to the hostilities on the ground that such a move would interfere with the Biden administration's attempts to stop the fighting.

"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 the hostilities and supervise the provision of humanitarian help to the Palestinians," Qureshi added.

Speaking from the rostrum of the iconic General Assembly Hall, the foreign minister drew the attention of the high-level delegates to the heart-rending situation in Palestine amid brutal Israeli bombardment.

"As we speak, children, women and men in Palestine are being killed with impunity," he said, pointing out that over 250 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured -- one-third are women and children.

"Death echoes in every home in Gaza," he said in a passionate speech.

"Hundreds of such tragedies are being enacted every hour in Gaza and other parts of the Palestinian territories. 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. Fuel for the power plants has almost run out," he pointed out.

He said that the voice of the Palestinian people cannot and will not be silenced and that the representatives of the Islamic world are here to speak with them and for them.

In his well-reasoned speech, Qureshi said there was no moral or military equivalence between the beleaguered and occupied Palestinian people, who had no army, no navvy, 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," he added.

The foreign minister called for mobilising all possible humanitarian help for the devastated Palestinian population in Gaza and other parts of the occupied territories.

In addition to the UNRWA emergency appeal, he urged the Secretary-General to launch a comprehensive humanitarian assistance plan to provide succour and sustenance to the Palestinians.

"We need to send medical teams, medicines and other supplies, food and other necessities to Gaza and other parts of the occupied Palestinian territories," he said, welcoming the access being provided by Egypt to Gaza.

"Israel must open all the access points to Gaza to ensure the timely and urgent delivery of international assistance," Qureshi added.

The foreign minister also called on the UN Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to offer protection to Israel's Arab citizens, who are being lynched and murdered by fascist Israeli gangs at the present time.

"The General Assembly should condemn Israel's forcible and illegal eviction of Palestinians, including in Al-Jarrah district of Jerusalem and continued construction of Jewish settlements; the onslaught against Palestinians worshipers in Haram Al-Sharif and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the first Qibla of Islam, during the month of Ramazan; and Israel's brutal and indiscriminate aerial and land bombardment of Gaza.

"Israel's crimes against humanity should not escape accountability," Qureshi said.

"There should be no impunity for violation of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention and other human rights Conventions.

He also called for reviving 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.

The General Assembly, he said, should secure unconditional implementation of resolution 242 of November 1967 in which the Security Council declared the 'inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war' and demanded that Israel withdraw its armed forces from territories occupied in the 1967 war.

"It is, therefore, imperative to initiate bold steps to secure the implementation of the Security Council and General Assembly resolutions calling for the establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian State with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.