Parliament unanimously supports motion on Palestine in historic first

In a historic and significant development, Members of Parliament on Tuesday unanimously endorsed the adjournment motion presented by Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Imthiaz Bakeer Markar on the humanitarian crisis in Palestine at present.

Bakeer Markar, opening the debate, noted that it is unconscionable to allow the terrible terror of over seven decades to continue in this manner. The MP said the issue is not limited to Palestine and is in fact a problem relating to democracy, the pride of humanity, social injustice, expansionism and the use of neo-colonial strategies.

The MP highlighted many atrocities taking place in Palestine at the hands of Israel including killings and land grabs. “It is a question of depriving the true inheritors of their citizenship rights and making them third-class, slave citizens of the Palestinian territories,” he said.

Bakeer Makar noted that the behaviour of Israel does not allow the United Nations, the Human Rights Commission, or the International Court of Justice, to fulfil any legal or moral responsibility for global justice, fundamental human rights, or international law, except for mere reports and statements. Noting the influence and interventions of the United States in supporting Israel, the MP added that through this kind of behaviour of powerful countries, the multilateral systems that exist for the protection and welfare of small countries are not only weakened but also sends a message that other countries, similar to Israel, can obtain the blessing of a superpower and act regardless of international law.

Meanwhile addressing the house Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said attacks on refugees by the Israeli state cannot be accepted. Commenting on the sufferings of the Palestinian people for over seven decades, Rajapaksa said it is timely that the Sri Lankan parliament has chosen to highlight the need for a resolution. “It is also a duty Sri Lanka must fulfil for the people of Palestine,” he said.

“On every occasion that I have addressed the United Nations, I have consistently emphasised Sri Lanka’s steadfast commitment to standing with Palestine and raising awareness about their enduring plight,” he said.

“The assurance of sovereignty and legal rights is crucial in resolving the Palestine-Israel issue. It is imperative to understand the needs of both nations’ people and work towards a solution that addresses their concerns. Mutual acceptance among the people is the key to resolving this issue, and engaging in meaningful discussions is essential, as avoiding them will only exacerbate the situation,” Rajapaksa noted.

Presenting his views, opposition leader Sajith Premadasa said his party, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) aimed to strengthen the rights of the Palestinian people by presenting the adjournment motion in relation to the difficulties faced by the country.

He said it was important to voice the need for political, social, economic and security rights of the Palestinian people in parliament.

“Palestinians are facing attacks characterised by state terrorism and barbarism. Innocent mothers, children, and citizens are in grave danger, and their lives are being subjected to murderous and cruel attacks. It is important for us to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people during this challenging time,” Premadasa said.

“Palestinian people are facing a killing field. All actions have a reaction. The unfortunate situation is there has been large-scale civilian life and infrastructure damage. Their socio-economic fabric has been damaged. No race or nation has the right to practise a policy of apartheid,” he added. The opposition leader called on the Israeli state to stop the culture of murder and to come to the discussion table instead. “Achieving brotherhood, reconciliation, and togetherness is essential to resolving these issues,” he noted.

National People’s Party (NPP) MP Vijitha Herath also agreed with comments made by speakers before him. Commenting on the recent attack on the Jenin refugee camp, Herath said similar actions have been continuing for years.

“The United Nations intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been hindered by the involvement and support of the United States towards Israel, limiting its effectiveness. However, there is widespread support from the international community for the rights of the Palestinians,” he said.

The MP called on President Ranil Wickremesinghe to issue an official statement condemning the actions of Israel, especially relating to the attack on Jenin.

“Everyone here in parliament stands with the Palestinian people. But the stance can only be made official if the head of state issues a statement before the world on behalf of the citizens of Sri Lanka. That is the most important action,” he said. He also called on the country’s leaders to pressurise the UN to pass a security council proposal and take stringent steps to stop Israeli action.

Former President Maithripala Sirisena, MPs Rauff Hakeem, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, Mohammed Muzammil and many others also took part in the debate and expressed similar sentiments. Ambassadors and officials of several High Commissions and Embassies were also in attendance during the debate.

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