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Trump’s ‘Israeli Hurrah’

Durable peace in the Middle East will remain elusive as long as Israel
continues to defy the UN resolutions on the Middle East issue.

By Shamshad Ahmad Khan | February 2021


The shifting sands of the Middle East have once again opened a discussion on whether Pakistan should revisit its policy towards Israel. In a recent interview, amid speculations, Prime Minister Imran Khan categorically denied his government was considering ‘recognition of Israel‘ and reaffirmed that there was no change in Pakistan’s principled position on Palestine. According to the Foreign Office, Pakistan’s approach on this issue will be guided, as it has always been, by our evaluation of how Palestinians’ rights and aspirations are upheld and how regional peace, realization of legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination, are dealt with.

This has been a constant in our foreign policy. There is no reason for anyone to question it.

Pakistan has consistently supported a two-state solution in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC resolutions as well as international law, with pre-1967 borders, and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital of Palestine. Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had openly spoken of the immediate pursuit of close diplomatic relations with Israel as soon as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reached a viable solution. In his view, Pakistan would full-heartedly recognize Israel and come forward to open relations when a two-state solution that gave equal opportunities to the Palestinians and Israelis was achieved and peace was restored. In other words, Pakistan’s recognition of Israel was predicated on a just and lasting settlement of the Palestine issue.

The question, however, arises why this issue is being agitated now when Israel has already been there as an independent state and as a member of the United Nations for over seven decades with an upper hand in every respect over its Arab adversaries. The answer lies in former U.S. president Donald Trump’s decision three years ago, on 6 December 2017, to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This decision was a departure from the known U.S. policy since the recognition of Israel by the United Nations in 1949 and also a blatant violation of the UN resolutions on the Palestinian question. Trump’s ill-conceived decision also risked further inflammation of a region which had already been in turmoil.

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The writer is a veteran Pakistani diplomat, international relations expert and an author. He served as the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan from 1997 to 2000. He also served as Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations between 2000 and 2002. He can be reached at shamshad1941

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