From Israel to Kashmir: the recognition of the US city of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel: the reaction of Islamabad

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From Israel to Kashmir: the recognition of the US city of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel: the reaction of Islamabad 22.01.2018 14:08

Pakistan, following other member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), reacted negatively to the statement by US President Donald Trump on December 5, 2017 "on the transfer of the American embassy to the occupied city of Al-Quds al-Sharif" (the Arab name of Jerusalem) thus, Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel. According to Islamabad, any decision that threatens the status of the holy city of Jerusalem is not acceptable.

Since the 1960’s, Pakistan has consistently advocated the establishment of an independent and holistic Palestinian state with the capital Al-Quds al-Sharif, and also supports the inalienable right of the Palestinians to self-determination. At the same time, the ties between Pakistan and the people of Palestine are traditionally strong. Thus, in 1992 the Federal Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan allocated a land plot for the embassy complex of Palestine in the diplomatic area of Islamabad, rendering all possible assistance to its construction. And the President of the Palestinian Autonomy, Mahmoud Abbas, visited Islamabad three times in recent years (2005, 2013, and 2017).

The status issue of Al-Quds al-Sharif lies at the heart of the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict, when Israeli troops occupied the eastern part of Jerusalem. Pakistan, a convinced supporter of the Palestinians in their struggle against the Israeli occupation, for many years, in cooperation with other Muslim countries, raised this issue on all international platforms, including the UN. He urged the US and Israel to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 478 (1980), which states "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory through the use of force."

And this policy is based on international support. In particular, the UN Security Council is deeply concerned about the adoption of the "core law" in the Israeli parliament (Knesset), proclaiming a change in the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem with its consequences for peace and security. It also emphasizes that "Israel has not complied with resolution 476 (1980). The UN Security Council condemns in the strongest terms the adoption of Israel's" fundamental law "on Jerusalem and the refusal to implement the relevant Security Council resolutions."

In Islamabad, other international documents are also taken into account. In particular, UN Security Council Resolution 242 (11/67) was approved after the end of the 1967 war. It also calls for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the territories occupied in the 1967 war, the cessation of war, mutual "recognition of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of each state in the region and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized borders free from threats or acts of force".

UN Security Council Resolution 338 (10/73) was approved already during the 1973 war. It calls for a peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict through territorial compromise, the return of the people of Palestine to their homeland, the restoration of basic human rights and the satisfaction of their humanitarian needs.

In 2015, Islamabad reiterated the need to return the Holy City of Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state and the illegal status of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. He also stressed that their capture not only contradicts international law, but also undermines the prospects for achieving long-term peace in the Middle East.

In recent years, Pakistan's position remains unchanged on the issue of commitment to the cause of the Palestinians. According to the country's foreign ministry, this explains the main reason why Pakistan has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

At the same time, Islamabad welcomes the support of Palestine by other countries. For example, in October 2014, Pakistan supported the vote in the British Parliament for a resolution in favor of a single state. And on September 10, 2015, the representative of Islamabad attended the ceremony of raising the Palestinian flag in front of the UN building as a symbol of an independent country. A few days later, he condemned the Israeli attack on the Muslim Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Soon after his inauguration in January 2017, US President Donald Trump announced Washington's readiness to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And then the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, Malih Lodhi, urged the United States to refrain from any actions aimed at changing the historical and legal status of Jerusalem, stressing that the United States and Israel do not take into account the positions of Muslim countries.

President Donald Trump's statement on the postponement of the US official representation in Jerusalem became in February 2017 an additional incentive for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to build new Jewish settlements in the occupied lands. On this issue, Pakistan once again took a principled position, saying that prolonged Israeli occupation and the expansion of illegal settlements could lead to the resumption and expansion of violence on the Sacred Land.

According to the press release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, signed on December 5, 2017 by US President Donald Trump, the document on the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem confirms the violation of Washington's international law and the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council. Failure to implement them undermines the decades-long consensus, and, as a result, fragile peace and security in the Middle East.

The statement of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also calls on the United States, as a party that prejudices the Arab-Israeli conflict, not to be drawn into Israeli occupation and colonialism and not to take steps that fix the annexation of Jerusalem. At the same time, the OIC member countries demanded that Washington deprive the legal and moral basis of mediation in resolving the crises in the Middle East.

And if, according to Donald Trump, the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel "marks the beginning of a new approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians," the next step in violating the resolutions of the UN Security Council could be the recognition by Washington of the Indian part of Kashmir as the sovereign territory of the Republic of India, further recognition of the Turkish Republic of its right to Cyprus or one of the parties in the territorial conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Nevertheless, Muslim countries reacted differently to the words of Donald Trump about Jerusalem. This shows the long-standing lack of unity in the Muslim community, where each country defends its national priorities. For example, in 2014, Israel struck a missile strike on the Gaza Strip, and it took five days for the OIC to condemn the attack.

Declared back in December 2015, the Islamic Military Anti-Terrorist Coalition (IWAC) and officially launched its functions on November 26, 2017, one of the strategic goals is to overcome differences in the Muslim umma. The first step in this direction was the formation of a single center in the format of the command of the said coalition. In turn, IVAC pointed out as one of its strategic objectives the protection of the territorial integrity of the member states of the Coalition, which includes 41 countries, including Palestine. While it is difficult to understand how this can help the Palestinian people in defending their legitimate rights.


Natalia Zamaraeva, senior researcher of the Pakistan sector of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Candidate of Historical Sciences.