ISLAMABAD - President Asif Ali Zardari has reiterated that Pakistan would continue to render its unwavering support to the Palestinian people till the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

The President said this in a statement, read by him, at the luncheon for the President of the State of Palestine, Mr Mahmoud Abbas, at Aiwan-e-Sadr, Islamabad on Sunday.

Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and PPP Chairman Bilawal Zardari Bhutto were present on the occasion. The luncheon was also attended by the Senate chairman, the AJK president, the Governor and the Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan, federal ministers, MNAs, parliamentarians, politicians, diplomats, high-ranking officials, members of the civil society and media persons.

Zardari said Pakistan would continue to voice support for the Palestinian cause at every forum as Pakistan did at the 67th UNGA session, and conveyed Pakistan's fullest support to the admission of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations.

The president, while expressing his joy over achieving non-member observer state status by Palestine at the UN, noted with pride that Pakistan played a pivotal role in the process that led to the recognition of legitimate Palestinian rights and hoped that it would prove to be a major stepping stone to Palestine's full membership of the UN.

Expressing dismay at the negative reaction of Israel to the recognition of Palestine as a State, President Zardari voiced concern over mocking of the UN by Israel, which, he said, violated international law with impunity while champions of justice and human rights did nothing but watch.

The president said that Pakistan strongly condemns the building of illegal settlements in the occupied territories and called upon the international community to stop Israel from building new settlements to the east and south of Occupied East Jerusalem, and added that these settlements, if allowed to be built, would deal a death blow to the two-nation state solution.

The president termed the complete disregard by Israel for international law as a slap in the face of the international community. He said that the continued denial of inalienable right of self-determination to the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir and Palestine carried the risk of instability of South Asian and Middle East regions. He stressed the need for achieving a global consensus on the goals and means to resolve the two conflicts, which he continued, would reflect the wisdom and maturity of the international community. He further added that unfortunately these goals remain elusive with no engagement and practical steps taken towards their realisation.

Zardari said Pakistan and Palestine have close and historical relations which were founded on the aspirations and heartfelt sentiments of the people of the two countries, and added that Pakistan shares the pain and anxiety of its Palestinian brethren.

He assured his Palestinian counterpart that 180 million Pakistanis stand shoulder to shoulder with their Palestinian brothers in their courageous fight against illegal occupation of their homeland and reassured him that Pakistan would continue to stand with the Palestinians till the time they would achieve their right to self-determination. The president concluded his statement by a quote from the Quaid-e-Azam: "But no nation, no people who are worth living as a nation, can achieve anything great without making great sacrifices, such as the Arabs of Palestine are making."

Mahmoud Abbas, in his statement, extended the deepest respect and appreciation of the Palestinian people for the principled position of Pakistan and its sincere commitment towards the Palestinian people over the years and towards its just cause in the international bodies and at all levels. Acknowledging the support of Pakistan to the Palestine, particularly during the voting in the General Assembly to upgrade the status of the State of Palestine into an observer state status, he reiterated that Palestine will continue to work hard to achieve their right to freedom and independence by ending the accumulated suffering of Palestine refugees through 65 years of homelessness.

The Palestine president also thanked the President and the Gov of Pakistan for agreeing to build the Embassy of the State of Palestine in Islamabad.