Friday, June 18

Muslim countries will push for ‘immediate ceasefire’ in Gaza at United Nations: Qureshi

The goal of all the representatives of Muslim countries that have gathered for a session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York is to push for “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza, Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Thursday.

His remarks came during a conversation with Geo News via telephone, a few hours prior to his address at the assembly.

Qureshi is in New York for a session of the United Nations, as are foreign ministers from several Muslim countries, to shed light on the situation in the Middle East.

The foreign minister had arrived a day earlier along with his counterparts from Turkey, Palestine, Sudan and Tunis.

He is due to address the General Assembly tonight at around 8pm, according to PTI’s Farrukh Habib.

“Tonight at approximately 8pm FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi will address UNGA focused only on the devastating situation Palestinians are facing and serious concerns of the Muslim ummah,” Habib wrote.

‘Immediate ceasefire’

“As soon as I reached New York, I invited all the foreign ministers and their PRs for dinner at the Pakistan House.

“We had a very fruitful meeting and we decided on our action plan for the address tonight,” Qureshi told Geo News.

He said the gathering “deliberated upon what it is that we seek to achieve with a session of the United Nations”.

“Our first aim is to demand an immediate ceasefire. If we are able to achieve this, it will be a big success for us.

“But this matter is perplexing and for a lasting solution we will need to continue our struggle,” the foreign minister noted.

He said Pakistan has” begun to fulfil its role” in the United Nations’ Human Rights Council and a special session of the forum will now be held.

Qureshi said that with the human rights violations that are occurring in Palestinian territories, the way Israel is committing genocide and war crimes, “Pakistan will try from the platform of the OIC to awaken the conscience of all those Western countries who are champions of human rights and will ask them why it is they are turning a blind eye to the violations in Gaza”.

He said all the OIC foreign ministers — there are 11 or 12 — will “meet the UN secretary general and record our protest with him”.

“We have decided to present to him a joint resolution,” he said.

He said a discussion also took place on a General Assembly resolution and a strategy has been adopted but that he does not wish to discuss the matter at this point in time.

UN rights council to hold session on Israel, Palestinians

The UN Human Rights Council has said it will hold a special session on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, amid deadly violence between Israel and armed Palestinian groups in Gaza.

The session, planned for next Thursday (May 27), will address “the grave human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,” the council said in a statement.

Pakistan, which is the coordinator of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the Palestinian authorities, has requested the session, the council said.

It will be the 30th extraordinary meeting of the UN’s top rights body since its creation 15 years ago.

The United Nations did not immediately say how many of the Geneva-based council’s 47 member states had backed the call, but at least a third must come out in support for a special session request to be granted.

Israeli strikes continue

Thursday’s announcement came as Israeli air strikes continued to hammer Gaza and as diplomats stepped up efforts towards a ceasefire to stem the devastating violence that erupted 10 days ago.

Israeli strikes on Gaza have 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.

Israel’s army has meanwhile said Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza have fired 4,070 rockets towards Israel, the overwhelming majority of them intercepted by its Iron Dome air defences.

The rockets have claimed 12 lives in Israel, including one child, with one Indian and two Thai nationals among those killed, the police said.

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