Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday called upon the United Nations General Assembly to “assume its own responsibility” and push the Security Council to demand a cessation of Israeli hostilities if the Council fails to do so on its own.
Qureshi was addressing the 67th plenary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York to highlight Israeli atrocities against Palestinians on Thursday.
“There are times in history when decisions of nations are remembered by posterity. This is one such moment,” Qureshi said, as he began his address.
“What we do today or cannot do will be recorded in history. Driven by arrogance and emboldened by impunity, Israel has mounted a relentless onslaught on the occupied and beleaguered people of Palestine,” he said.
He said that one week of Israeli attacks have led to more than 250 Palestinians being martyred and thousands injured — one third of which are women and children.
“Death echoes in every home in Gaza,” Qureshi said, to lay stress on the gravity of the situation. He also recalled one such tragedy, in which ten members of the Abu Hattab family had perished in Israeli strikes.
“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,” he said, adding that these people have very poor and limited access to water, food, hygiene and health services.
The foreign minister said hospitals and sanitation services rely on electricity but fuel for power plants “has almost run out”.
“Gaza has plunged in darkness […] the only light is that of Israeli explosions,” he said.
Qureshi said such is the existence of Palestine, where “in full view of the world Israeli airstrikes bring down entire buildings to kill and terrorise innocent Palestinians and even silence the media”.
“It is time to say enough. The voice of the Palestinian people cannot and will not be silenced,” he said.
The foreign minister said the representatives of the Islamic world are there to speak with and for Palestine.
He said it is “appalling” that the United Nations Security Council has been unable to do what it is tasked with — to maintain international peace and security. He said it has even failed to demand a cessation of hostilities, and warned that those preventing it from doing so “bear a heavy responsibility”.
He said the United Nations General Assembly, must then, assume its own responsibility. “We must not fail the Palestinian people at this critical juncture.”
“Our first priority must be to halt the Israeli aggression. I hope that even at this eleventh hour, the Security Council will call for a cessation of Israeli attacks. If it fails to do so, the General Assembly must make this demand on behalf of the entire international community,” he said.
He said there is no moral or military equivalence between the two sides. Whereas Palestinians have no army, navy or airforce, “the Israeli war machine is 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 said.
Qureshi then drew attention to the General Assembly resolution 2647 of November 1970, which speaks of the right to self determination.
He also urged for the need to mobilise all possible humanitarian help for the devastated Palestinian population in Gaza and other parts of the occupied territories, including medical teams, medicines and other supplied, food and other necessities.
The foreign minister said Pakistan welcomes Egypt opening access to Gaza and Israel should also open all access points to ensure the timely and urgent delivery of international assistance.