Pak calls for ‘coalition of willing’ to protect Palestinians

Qureshi tells UNGA alliance can provide civilian observers to monitor accession of hostilities

Kamran Yousuf May 21, 2021


Pakistan on Thursday asked the United Nations to deploy the ‘International Protection Force’ in Occupied Palestine, saying if the world body can’t do it, a “coalition of willing” can be formed for the purpose.

The idea of deploying an international protection force first came from Turkey and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who attended the emergency session of the UN General Assembly in New York, endorsed the proposal.

“If the Security Council cannot agree to send a protection force, a coalition of willing can be formed to provide at least civilian observers to monitor accession of the hostilities,” Qureshi told the UNGA, where he went along with Turkish and Palestinian foreign ministers as part of diplomatic efforts to seek an end to the Israeli atrocities against Palestinians.

“What we do today, or cannot do, will be recorded in history,” the foreign minister said as he began his speech.

Qureshi insisted that Israel must be held accountable for the atrocities against Israel. “No impunity for those who commit crimes,” he added.

The foreign minister said it was “appalling” that the UN Security Council failed to fulfil its “primary responsibility” to seek an end to the Israeli hostilities against Palestinians.

READ OIC diplomats gather in New York ahead of UNGA session on Palestine

The UNSC has been debating the issue but the US, the main backer of Israel, has so far blocked moves by the world body’s main decision-making body to issue a statement. Washington claims that the UNSC statement would undermine diplomatic efforts to seek a ceasefire. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden said he “expects de-escalation” soon. However, the Israeli Prime Minister ruled out halting attacks against the Palestinians.

Qureshi said the "relentless onslaught" by Israel on the people of Palestine had resulted in scores of deaths and limited access to food, water, hygiene and health services.

"As we speak, people in Palestine are being killed with impunity. Death echoes in every home in Gaza.

Gaza is plunged into darkness literally and metaphorically; the only light is of Israeli explosions," he said referring to the bombing, which entered its 12th day on Thursday.

Since the current hostilities began, Israel has killed 230 Palestinians, including 65 children, according to the Gaza health ministry, leaving vast areas in rubble and displacing tens of thousands in the crowded territory.

The foreign minister insisted that the world must not “fail the people of Palestine at this critical juncture”.
"Let us be clear, there is no more room for military equivalence between the beleaguered Palestinian people and the Israeli military. We should mobilise all possible humanitarian help for the devastated population in Gaza and all other occupied territories."

He asked Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza so that necessary medical and other supplies could be sent to the people there.

READ UN chief Guterres calls Gaza 'hell on earth' for children

“The voice of people of Palestine cannot and will not be silenced,” Qureshi further added.
The foreign minister, reiterating Pakistan’s principled stance on the Palestinian issue, said, “Just solution of Palestine is imperative for regional and global stability and the onus lies on Israel to vacate the occupied territories.”

Earlier, the Turkish foreign minister also addressed the UNGA session where he illustrated through a map that how Israel over the decades occupied the Palestinian land.
Observers believe that the UNGA session may highlight the issue but the world body is unlikely to take any drastic measure against Israel.FO briefing

Meanwhile, Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudri in his weekly briefing here on Thursday said following the escalation of violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Pakistan joined the call for a meeting of the UNGA to discuss the deteriorating situation in Palestine.

He said Pakistan participated in the open meeting of the UNSC held on May 16 in the backdrop of the escalating situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Pakistan deplored Israel’s use of indiscriminate and disproportionate force, including aerial bombing as well as destruction of civilian infrastructure.

“We urged the Security Council to fulfil its Charter obligations, initiate steps to hold Israel accountable for its war crimes and crimes against humanity and above all, realise the full implementation of relevant UN resolutions,” the spokesperson said.

He said Pakistan had always unequivocally condemned the Israeli brutalities against unarmed Palestinian people and had sponsored, co-sponsored or supported every resolution on Palestine, including at the United Nations and the OIC.

“As for the role of international community, we firmly believe that the international community, particularly the OIC being the second largest international organisation, has a significant role to play in addressing this longstanding issue,” he added.