Netanyahu’s annex pledge ‘illegal and dangerous,’ says Pakistan

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal speaks to the media at the Foreign office in Islamabad on May 1, 2019. (AFP/File)
Updated 12 September 2019

Netanyahu’s annex pledge ‘illegal and dangerous,’ says Pakistan

  • Islamabad supports the creation of an independent state of Palestine, says foreign office
  • Experts urge Israel’s land grab threat to be highlighted at UNGA along with OIC

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday rejected any move by Israel to annex Jordan valley declaring it as an “illegal and dangerous escalation.”
Dr. Muhammad Faisal, spokesperson for the foreign office, said during a weekly press briefing that Islamabad strongly supported the demand for an independent Palestinian state and its policy remained unchanged in that regard.
“Pakistan rejects any move by Israel to annex Jordan valley which is illegal and dangerous escalation,” said Faisal.
He added that “Pakistan does not recognize the state of Israel and its policy on this is very clear. There is no such step in consideration at all to recognize Israel.”
The official said that “Pakistan has repeatedly called for an independent Palestinian state based on “internationally agreed parameters” and the pre-1967 borders with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital which would “guarantee sustainable peace in West Asia.”
In a controversial, televised statement on Tuesday, Netanyahu pledged that Israel would move to annex Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank if he won a stiffly contested election just a week away. The West Bank was captured by Israel in a 1967 war, but Palestinians, who signed interim peace deals with Israel in the 1990s, seek to make the area part of a future state.
Around 65,000 Palestinians and 11,000 Israeli settlers live in the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area.
After the announcement, Saudi Arabia has led the call to condemn Netanyahu’s remarks describing it as “a very dangerous escalation” and summoned an emergency meeting of OIC foreign ministers over the issue.
Dr. Hassan Askari, a Lahore based international relations expert, told Arab News that Netanyahu's pledge was aimed to gain political mileage during the upcoming polls. He said that along with the OIC, “the issue should also be highlighted in the upcoming UNGA session.”
“Pakistan’s stance on Israel has always been very clear as the country termed all Israeli actions as illegal and supported the Palestinian cause.”
Javed Hafeez, a former Pakistani diplomat and an expert on Middle East affairs, said there were striking similarities between the policies of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Israeli premier Netanyahu in terms of their expansionist designs. “They are trying to annex territories that do not belong to them,” he told Arab News.
Hafeez said that Kashmir is a disputed territory under the UN resolutions while “Palestine is not even a disputed territory. It is an Arab territory accepted by UN resolution. Israel must vacate Arab territory occupied during the war.”
He said that Saudi Arabia has taken the right initiative by summoning the OIC emergency meeting of foreign ministers and “Pakistan should be in the forefront during this conference to condemn this Israeli move.”
As an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) coordinator on the issue, Islamabad tables five resolutions on Palestine every year. In May this year, Pakistan highlighted “Israeli aggression” in Palestine at the OIC summit in Makkah, chaired by King Salman bin Abdulaziz, during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Dr. Faisal also clarified that the recently visiting UAE and Saudi foreign ministers “expressed solidarity with Pakistan and support for the Kashmir cause.”
The spokesperson said that the joint statement submitted by Pakistan during the UNHRC session in Geneva was supported by most OIC member states. “The joint statement shows the growing international disapproval of the Indian unilateral and illegal actions in Indian Held Kashmir. It also signifies the increasing global demand for lifting of the lockdown of Kashmiri population.”
He said that US President Donald Trump’s recent reiteration of the offer to mediate on Kashmir was rejected by New Delhi because India was “not ready.”
“We have always been ready for bilateral dialogue as well [as mediation] and we made many attempts [to hold talks]. We have always maintained that every issue can be solved through dialogue,” said the official.

Saudi team meets Pakistani health officials to expedite work on new hospital 

Updated 26 February 2020

Saudi team meets Pakistani health officials to expedite work on new hospital 

  •  200-bed first ever tertiary care hospital being jointly built by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in rural Islamabad
  • Saudi Arabia building hospital as “gift to people of Pakistan” through Saudi Fund for Development,” Saudi ambassador says 

ISLAMABAD: A Saudi delegation met with top officials of Pakistan’s health ministry late last week to discuss ways to expedite construction of the first-ever tertiary care hospital in rural Islamabad, the King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud Hospital, a senior official
 at Pakistan’s health ministry said on Tuesday.

Construction is underway for King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Hospital in Islamabad on Feb. 26, 2020. (AN photo)

The Saudi delegation was led by Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) Regional Manager Dr. Saud Al Shammari and the Pakistani side by Director General Health, Malik Muhammad Safi.

Workers are seen at the construction site of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Hospital in Islamabad on Feb. 26, 2020. (AN photo)

“The total cost of the [hospital] building is Rs2,500 million, out of which Rs500 million was the cost of the land, which was provided by the Pakistani government while the remaining Rs2,000 million would be spent by the Saudi side,” Safi told Arab News in an interview
 in Islamabad on Tuesday.

He said Saudi officials had suspended the contractor hired by them earlier as they were not satisfied with progress on the project.

Workers are seen at the construction site of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Hospital in Islamabad on Feb. 26, 2020. (AN photo)

“During the meeting last week, the Saudi delegation informed us that they [Saudis] have voided the previous contractor and now are discussing hiring a new firm,” Safi said. “It will take another four months to complete the process of hiring through international bidding.”

After a new contractor is hired, it will take two years to complete the first phase of the 200-bed hospital, to which another 300 beds would be added in the future, Safi said.

“Pakistan has built a complete boundary wall and installed gates on the plot and possession has been given to Saudi officials,” he said. “Now they [Saudis] will take over control of further construction process. Their technical team is coordinating with our team to
 complete and expedite the work.”

Safi said the hospital would benefit over three million people from both urban and rural Islamabad. 

“Saudi Arabia is building a hospital in Islamabad as a gift to the people of Pakistan through the Saudi Fund for Development,” Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, told Arab News in Islamabad. “There are many welfare projects in the pipeline for
 the Pakistani people and they will be executed by different Saudi agencies all over Pakistan.”