Pakistan pushes for ceasefire in Mideast conflict, stresses Gaza civilians’ protection, unrestricted aid delivery

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 25 (Alliance News):: At a tense U.N. Security Council meeting on Tuesday, Pakistan reiterated its strong condemnation of Israeli air strikes and military action in Gaza, warning that further massive civilian casualties in the Palestinian enclave could trigger a “wider and more dangerous” conflict.

“Pakistan calls for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire,” Ambassador Munir Akram said during a 15-member Council’s high-level debate on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.

 

 

“Continuation of the Israeli campaign in the Gaza will lead to further massive civilian casualties and could trigger a wider and more dangerous conflict,” the Pakistani envoy told the meeting addressed by a total of 86 speakers from countries and regional groups – including more than twenty ministers – that pushed the conflict to the centre of world geopolitics.

Opening the debate, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the situation “is growing more dire by the hour” as he repeated his call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

Referring to the Hamas attacks against Israelis in border towns on Oct. 7, Guterres said they “did not happen in a vacuum”, with the Palestinian people being subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation, during which they saw their land devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced; their homes demolished, and their hopes for a political solution vanishing. However, he said, Hamas’ attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

Those pointed words from the secretary-general drew a hostile reaction from Israel’s diplomats. Israeli ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan called on him to “resign immediately” in a tweet, and at the stakeout outside the Security Council. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen also tweeted that he would not be meeting with the UN chief today for a scheduled bilateral.

Ambassador Erdan told reporters at the stakeout that in noting the Hamas attacks “did not happen in a vacuum” in his address to the Council, the UN chief was “justifying terrorism”.

In response to questions concerning the Israeli Foreign Minister’s tweet, UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that the Secretary-General would be meeting family representatives of hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza, adding they would be accompanied by a representative of the Israel’s Permanent Mission to the UN.

In his speech to the Security Council, Ambassador Akram conveyed Pakistan’s full support and solidarity with Palestinian brothers and sisters in these tragic and challenging times.

Israel’s relentless and indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza over the last 17 days has killed more than 5,000 people and injured another 15,000, the Pakistani envoy said, “strongly and unequivocally” condemning Israel’s airstrikes and military actions in Gaza, particularly attacks on schools, residential buildings and hospitals

“These Israeli attacks on civilians, civilian objects and infrastructure, blockade of water, food and fuel as well as the forced transfer of people from the occupied territory, are flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and amount to war crimes.,” he said, adding, “Those responsible for these atrocity crimes must be held accountable.”

Ambassador Akram regretted the Security Council has been unable to issue a call for a ceasefire. In this regard, a heavy responsibility rests on those who contribute to the prolongation of this conflict, he said.

Last week, the Security Council failed to adopt two previous draft resolutions addressing the escalation in the Middle East. The first from Russia calling for an immediate ceasefire, failed to get enough votes, while a Brazilian draft was vetoed by the United States. Although it called for humanitarian pauses for aid access, the US determined objected to the fact it did not mention Israel’s right to self-defence.

“Any attempt to create a false equivalence between Israel, the occupying power, and the Palestinians, the victims of this occupation, is untenable – legally, morally and politically,” the Pakistani envoy said.

The displacement of the Palestinian population of Gaza violated international humanitarian law, he said, demanding that the Council must reject Israel’s attempts to displace the Gazans, within or outside Gaza.

Under international law, he said, the struggle of people living under foreign occupation for self-determination and national liberation is legitimate and cannot be equated with terrorism.

“It is the suppression of this struggle, which is illegal,” the Pakistani envoy said, pointing out that throughout history, colonial powers have portrayed national liberation movements as terrorism.

“Some in this Council have offered protection to their allies who are oppressing occupied peoples in Palestine or Kashmir,” he said.

“Under the UN Charter, States have the right of self-defence against attacks on their sovereignty and territorial integrity. Yet, a State, which is in forcible occupation of a foreign territory, cannot invoke the ‘right to self-defence’ against those whose territory it has illegally occupied,”

Ambassador Akram added, “The perpetuation of Israeli occupation will not bring peace to the Holy Land. Durable peace will emerge from the internationally agreed two-state solution and from the creation of a secure, viable, contiguous, and sovereign state of Palestine on the basis of the pre-June 1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.”

During the day-long debate, most speakers voiced alarm at the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza, stressing the need for water, fuel and medicine to enter the besieged enclave.

Many delegates underscored the urgent need to avoid a regional conflagration and to recommit to a two-State solution. The speakers, however, varied in emphasis, with some full-throatedly asserting Israel’s right to defend itself against an existential terror threat, while others deplored the blockade and the seemingly indiscriminate nature of the strikes and called for international law to be respected.

Riad Al-Maliki, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, urged the Council and the international community to put an end to the ongoing massacres perpetrated by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian civilian population.

“The Security Council has a duty to stop them. Continued failure at this Council is inexcusable,” he emphasized, calling on the 15-member organ to call for a ceasefire, secure humanitarian access in all parts of Gaza, end the forced displacement, provide international protection for the Palestinian people, and achieve justice through accountability.

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