ISLAMABAD   -   Pakistan rejects the shifting US position on the Palestine issue and is committed to ‘two state solution’, a senior Pakistani diplomat said yesterday.

Speaking via video at a roundtable conference organised by Islamabad Policy Institute on ‘Palestine: Deal of the Century and Two State Solution’, Pakistan’s Envoy to the United Nations Dr Maleeha Lodhi said: “We are seeing shifting of US policy …. Pakistan does not agree with shifts in position.”

Referring to US position on Golan Heights, and illegal settlements, she said Pakistan will continue to be part of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in rejecting these shifts and calling for a just and humane settlement of Palestine issue in line with UNGA and UNSC resolutions.

The conference was also addressed by the deputy permanent observer of State of Palestine at the UN Ambassador Feda Abdelhady and representatives of political parties, think tanks and academia was organized by IPI in connection with the international workshop held in Bahrain, where US rolled out the first part of its proposed ‘Deal of the Century’.

The representatives of the political parties on this occasion observed that Pakistan government cannot change its position on Palestine dispute because of its implications for Kashmir conflict. They urged the government to clarify its position on the US proposal that is being backed by several Arab countries.

Lodhi said: “We call for Two State solution based on pre-1967 borders with Jerusalem as capital of independent and contiguous Palestinian State”.

She emphasised that international consensus in favour of such a solution remains unaffected. Quoting UN Secretary General, the Pakistani envoy said, there was no other viable plan that could deliver peace in Middle East.

Ambassador Abdelhady, in her comments via video from New York, rejected the ‘Deal of the Century’ as “cynical and bad faith effort.”

Criticising the US plan, she said Bahrain Conference relegated core issues in Palestine dispute as ‘non-issues’ and there was not even a mention of ‘Palestine’ and ‘occupation’ in the US plan. She said US was, in collaboration with Israel, trampling the law and mocking the longstanding international consensus on the issue.

Chairman NA Foreign Affairs Committee Ehsan Tiwana, who chaired the session, said Pakistan’s position on Palestine is unambiguous and the government does not have much space for deviating from it because of similarities between Kashmir and Palestine disputes.

Tiwana said any shift in the position, if it were to happen, would have to be debated in the Parliament and the decision would have to be taken through consensus. There is no other way for changing the stance, he further said.

Secretary General Majlis Wahdat-el Muslimeen Raja Nasir Abbas Jaffery said that Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ was part of its plan for greater Israel and is doomed to fail.

He said US was attempting to territorially expand Israel in disregard of international law and principles. He warned that US plan was a threat for the entire region.

Executive Director IPI Professor Sajjad Bokhari said that President Trump’s proposed solution could put Palestinians at a permanent disadvantage by taking them further away from the realization of a Two State solution. The plan, he maintained, was aimed at strengthening Israel’s permanent control over East Jerusalem and strategic areas of the West Bank, while restricting Palestinians to a few isolated enclaves.

Meanwhile, Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs yesterday discussed the Palestinian issue and other challenges facing the Muslims, including the Kashmir dispute.

Senator Nuzhat Sadiq while chairing the session welcomed the delegation and remarked that the State, government and Parliament of Pakistan fully support the Palestine issue and is always a proponent for Palestinian people to get their due rights recognized and the issue to come to a logical conclusion.

She also told the visiting delegation that the Senate of Pakistan has also unanimously condemned recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital and shifting of US embassy to Jerusalem.

The visiting delegation which is on a four day visit to Pakistan was headed by Dr. Hamid Abdullah Husseih al-Ahmar, President of the Al Quds Parliament, Syed Abu Musameh, Member of Board, Jaraallah Bachir, General Director, Abedallah Elbeti, General Coordination of Relations.

The delegation told the committee that in meeting with Chairman Senate a proposal to have a special committee on Palestinian issue in the Senate or a sub-committee of Foreign Affairs committee be constituted for dealing with Kashmir, Palestine and Rohingya issue.

The Committee was told that Al-Quds Parliament was a league established in 2015 which is open to members Parliament from any country who wants to play a part in support of the Palestine issue. The league has 115 members from 25 countries.

Senator Abdul Rehman Malik remarked that the Muslim Ummah has failed to stay united in the face of the challenges it is facing and has always been on the defensive dealing with issues in a haphazard manner instead of a well thought out strategy.

He suggested that Al-Quds Parliamentary League may consider presenting studies and researches to further our cause and to quantify and substantiate the sufferings of common people.

He said that we need to link the Kashmir and Palestine issue and take both holistically towards the resolution of our challenges.

Senator Dr Shehzad Waseem observed that whenever Pakistan is represented in any international forum for the Palestine Cause it is beyond any political or territorial bias and Pakistan will always continue to support the cause with all its might.

Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar remarked” “our challenges are huge but our responses are not measured and one of the major reasons of our failure throughout the course of history is our continually increasing division within the Ummah.”