Gov’t saddened by innocent lives lost in Middle East conflict – Holness
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the Government is saddened and concerned about the innocent loss of lives, particularly children, stemming from the Israel-Hamas conflict in the Middle East.
Holness made the comments while responding to questions posed during a recent post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.
“On the situation in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians, we are friends of both peoples and we are very distressed, saddened and concerned about the innocent loss of lives, particularly the killing of children who have no part or cause in a conflict, in the same way that we speak unequivocally about the killing of innocent children in Jamaica who have no part in a conflict.
“We are very concerned, always, about any act that could be considered terrorism in any State, in the same way we are concerned here about acts that could be considered terrorist acts in our own country; and so, we speak very clearly on those issues,” the prime minister said.
Holness said a humanitarian pause is necessary in Gaza, “based on the images that are being broadcast all over the world, my own research into the subject and information that we receive”.
He noted that Jamaica has Palestinian and Jewish communities, pointing out that “we have been petitioned by both”.
“Jamaica has voted many times in support of the Palestinian cause, and we have also voted in support of matters to do with Israel because on both sides there are claims that could be justified. We don’t want to see innocent people die, and that is our position,” the prime minister said.
Jamaica did not register a vote on a resolution tabled at the United Nation’s General Assembly on October 27.
The resolution calls for an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce between Israeli forces and Hamas militants in Gaza.
It also demands continuous, sufficient and unhindered provision of lifesaving supplies and services for civilians trapped inside the enclave. There were 120 votes in favour, 14 against and 45 abstentions.
“It is, indeed, obviously an unfortunate circumstance that we did not get to cast a vote, but…everything that we have said and done, including delivering a statement on behalf of Caricom and helping to craft and word and draft the statement, suggests that that would have been our vote. That someone would then seek to make an issue of it, I think it’s an extreme in the position.
“So the consideration is being given, obviously, to see if that position can be rectified, post the vote, because we would not want it to be a continued distraction from what we intend to be our position, which is quite clear that our position is we supported the humanitarian interventions for the Palestinian people. So on that matter, I think we should be careful that we don’t seek to destroy our own interest by making extreme comments and allegations regarding our foreign policy,” Holness said.
Meanwhile, the prime minister dismissed the suggestion that Jamaica’s foreign policy and position globally have been diminished by the country’s failure to cast a vote on the resolution.
“When it comes to Jamaica’s foreign policy, we handle it very carefully. If we were to look at the facts, Jamaica has never been on so many international platforms than I have been on and this Administration has been on than any other administration before, and I challenge them, why is that so? Because Jamaica has maintained a principled and consistent foreign policy, because Jamaica has also operated in a strategic way in making sure that we also look out for our national interest,” Holness underscored.