Mr Ehsanullah Tiwana
Chairman National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs
Worthy participants of the discussion!
I wish to thank all of you for sparing time from your busy schedules and gracing this event with your presence.
The topic of today’s roundtable discussion ‘Palestine: Deal of the Century and Two State Solution’ is very important in view of the regional developments, and the need for resolution of Palestine dispute for sustainable peace in the Middle East.
IPI is initiating the discussion on this topic at a time when Bahrain is hosting an international workshop for laying out the vision of the proposed ‘Deal of the Century’ and initiating discussion on its financial component.
Before convening this event, IPI undertook research on the issue, and our institute concluded that President Trump’s proposed solution, from whatsoever we know about it, would, if implemented, put Palestinians at a permanent disadvantage by taking them further away from the realization of a Two State solution. The plan, if implemented, would, moreover, strengthen Israel’s permanent control over East Jerusalem and strategic areas of the West Bank, while restricting Palestinians to a few isolated enclaves.
We fear that this initiative is doomed to fail because it does not address the core issues in the 70 years old dispute – end to Israeli occupation of the occupied Arab territories; the borders of Israel and State of Palestine; the status of Jerusalem; and refugees. The focus is instead on providing economic opportunities to the people of Palestine.
It is furthermore inappropriate that Trump Administration while preparing the Plan did not consult them. As a matter of fact, Trump Administration by substantially cutting down economic assistance for the Palestinians and closing down their representative office in Washington ended all contacts with them. Moreover, through recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights, the US government has proven beyond doubt that it is not an honest broker.
However, more worrying is the fact that while this flawed plan may not resolve Palestine dispute, but it could divide the support for Palestinian cause in the Arab World. We are already seeing the divisions on this issue not only among Arabs, but among the Muslim countries at large. Bahrain is hosting the workshop, Saudis and Emiratis are backing it, while Egyptians and Jordanians are participating in the event. Turks and Iranians are on the other hand opposed to it.
As per the information available with our research team, Pakistan has already been asked by Arab friends about its position on Deal of the Century. The government has, therefore, reportedly started brainstorming on the matter.
Pakistan’s longstanding position on the dispute, it must be recalled, is that there should be a just, comprehensive and lasting solution based on international law and through full implementation of relevant United Nations resolutions, including Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515 as well as the Madrid terms of reference, the road map, the Arab Peace Initiative and the understandings reached in Annapolis.
Pakistan government, moreover, has in the past also drawn parallels between Palestine and Kashmir conflicts. This means that Pakistan’s decision on this issue could potentially have implications for its position on Occupied Kashmir. It would, therefore, be a difficult choice for the government.
We would, therefore, like to hear from our worthy discussants as to how they see the proposed ‘Deal of the Century’ and seek their recommendations.
Looking forward to a fruitful discussion!