‘Palestine: Deal of the Century & Two-State Solution’

ISLAMABAD, June 26, 2019: Pakistan’s envoy to the United Nations Dr Maleeha Lodhi on Wednesday said Pakistan firmly remains committed to Two State Solution of the Palestine dispute and rejects the shifting US position on the issue.

The Permanent Representative to the UN in New York Dr Lodhi was speaking via video at a round table conference organized by Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI) on ‘Palestine: Deal of the Century & Two State Solution’. The conference that was also addressed by the deputy permanent observer of State of Palestine at the UN Amb Feda Abdelhady and representatives of political parties, think tanks and academia was organized by IPI in connection with the international workshop held in Bahrain, where US rolled out the first part of its proposed ‘Deal of the Century’.

The representatives of the political parties on this occasion observed that Pakistan government cannot change its position on Palestine dispute because of its implications for Kashmir conflict. They urged the government to clarify its position on the US proposal that is being backed by several Arab countries.

“We are seeing shifting of US policy …. Pakistan does not agree with shifts in position and we continue to be part of OIC in rejecting these shifts and calling for a just, and humane settlement of Palestine issue in line with UNGA and UNSC resolutions,” Dr Lodhi said while referring to US position on Golan Heights, and illegal settlements.

“We call for Two State solution based on pre-1967 borders with Jerusalem as capital of independent and contiguous Palestinian State,” she said and emphasized that international consensus in favour of such a solution remains unaffected. Quoting UN Secretary General, the Pakistani envoy said, there was no other viable plan that could deliver peace in Middle East.

Amb Abdelhady, in her comments via video from New York, rejected the ‘Deal of the Century’ as “cynical and bad faith effort”.

Criticizing the US plan, she said Bahrain Conference relegated core issues in Palestine dispute as ‘non-issues’ and there was not even a mention of ‘Palestine’ and ‘occupation’ in the US plan. She said US was, in collaboration with Israel, trampling the law and mocking the longstanding international consensus on the issue.

“It is clear that appealing, cajoling, and appeasing Israel is not going to work and the international community must realize that only accountability can break this toxic cycle, end illegal occupation and achieve rights for Palestinian people,” she maintained.

Chairman NA Foreign Affairs Committee Mr Ehsan Tiwana, who chaired the session, said Pakistan’s position on Palestine is unambiguous and the government does not have much space for deviating from it because of similarities between Kashmir and Palestine disputes.

Mr Tiwana said any shift in the position, if it were to happen, would have to be debated in the Parliament and the decision would have to be taken through consensus. There is no other way for changing the stance, he further said.

PML-N leader and former federal minister Awais Leghari said “despite discernible shift in Arab countries … Pakistan must retain its independent stance and be cognizant of the impact of recognition of an occupier state’s legitimacy and disregard of international agreements for the suppressed people of Palestine. This would also inadvertently impact Pakistan’s position on Kashmir.”

Secretary General Majlis Wahdat-el Muslimeen Raja Nasir Abbas Jaffery said that Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ was part of its plan for greater Israel and is doomed to fail. He said US is attempting to territorially expand Israel in disregard of international law and principles. He warned that US plan was a threat for the entire region.

Mr Jaffery said that Pakistan government looks confused on the issue. He urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to play a pro-active role in dealing with the emerging situation. He suggested that Pakistan, while formulating its response should, keep in view larger picture and act wisely.

Executive Director IPI Prof Sajjad Bokhari said that President Trump’s proposed solution could put Palestinians at a permanent disadvantage by taking them further away from the realization of a Two State solution. The plan, he maintained, was aimed at strengthening Israel’s permanent control over East Jerusalem and strategic areas of the West Bank, while restricting Palestinians to a few isolated enclaves.

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