Peiris reiterates Sri Lanka’s support for Palestine
Tells Parliament relationship remains alive, strong and unchanged
COLOMBO – Foreign Minister G. L Peiris on Monday (4) reiterated Sri Lanka’s support for the Palestinian freedom struggle, saying “Our government’s very close relationship with Palestine is still alive, strong and remains unchanged.”
Peiris, who was responding to a question raised by Samagi Jana Balawegaya MP Imthiaz Bakeer Markar in Parliament on Monday as to whether there was any policy level change in Sri Lanka’s support for the freedom struggle in Palestine, said he had told the Palestinian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Dr. Zuhair M.H. Dar Zaid, who had met him recently that “We strongly maintain our stand with Palestine, and our position still remains the same unchanged”.
Bakeer Markar raised the issue of Sri Lanka’s support for the Palestinian cause, seeking clarification on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September, where he had not made any mention of Sri Lanka’s stand on the freedom struggle in the State of Palestine.
“Whatever party comes to the power, Sri Lanka as a country stood against all the types of occupations and colonialism throughout history. In this line, our country leaders used to make supportive comments in regards to the South African and the Palestinian freedom struggles during their speeches at the UN General Assembly,” the MP pointed out.
Noting that during the September 2021 UNGA sessions, the Sri Lankan leader had not mentioned anything in this regard in his speech, Bakeer Markar asked, “I would like to know from the foreign minister whether there are any policy level changes in this line?”
Peiris, welcoming the query, said nothing had changed in Sri Lanka’s stand and reminded the MP that there is a Street in Ramallah, Palestine, named after Mahinda Rajapaksa and that the Sri Lanka embassy is located in that square.
The Foreign Minister also pointed out that Mahinda Rajapaksa is the pioneer leader of the Sri Lankan Palestine Friendship Association, and he had been very active as its president in the supportive campaign for around 23 years, from the time he entered Parliament as a young Member. “And he is still in that position,” Peiris said, adding, “Not only Palestinian friendship, he is also very close to the Arab and Muslim world.”
Peiris also said that during his visit to the UN, he met the chairman of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC – 57 Muslim Countries) and explained to him Sri Lanka’s position on its relationship with the Arab and Muslim world.
“ I repeat that nothing has changed,” he said but noted that at this year’s UNGA, Sri Lanka had decided not to specifically mention any country by name considering other countries may raise counter queries for not mentioning their names.
However, he added, “I reiterate and would like to confirm, that our country’s and our government’s very close relationship with Palestine is still alive, strong and remains unchanged.”