Sri Lanka has not changed or reversed its stand on Palestine and will uphold the policies maintained by former governments, Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera told Parliament today.
He said this in response to a question asked by MP Dinesh Gunawardane in the House on an earlier date.
“Sri Lanka stands firm in its support to Palestine and will work in solidarity with that nation," the minister said adding that divisions among the members of the UNESCO executive board on a resolution which contained controversial and contentious elements led to Sri Lanka abstaining from voting when the resolution was taken up.
“On October 13, 2016 seven nations including Algeria, Morocco. Oman, Lebanon, Egypt, Qatar and Sudan brought a resolution pertaining to Al-Askar Mosque, Al Halam, which contained controversial and contentious elements on which 58 members of the UNESCO executive board could reach a consensus. We were aware that in this question taken by Palestine there were concerns on the language used. The sites used in the resolution were referred to only by Arabic names. This caused divisions in the executive board. The Director General of UNESCO was of the opinion that Jerusalem is a city of major monastic religions -- Jewish, Christian and Islam. Denying Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions will undermine the integrity of the site. Sri Lankan people knew the destruction and pain caused by the conflict. Just as much as it strives to ensure such violence won't reccur in our country we want to give the world the same message," he said citing the reason for Sri Lanka abstaining from voting for the resolution.
The minister said he had already assured Palestine Prime Minister of Sri Lanka's firm support.
He said Sri Lanka would also maintain bilateral ties with Israel from which country Sri Lanka had sought technological assistance for sectors such as agriculture.
The minister also said a considerable number of Sri Lankans were working in Israel. (Yohan Perera)