Sri Lanka’s decision to abstained from voting on a resolution by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which denounced Israeli violations in and around the al-Haram al-Sharif compound in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds, drew flak in Parliament today.
Joint Opposition member Dinesh Gunawardena raised the matter in Parliament today.
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauff Hakeem said he was perplexed by Sri Lanka’s decision to abstain from voting.
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Parliamentarian Bimal Rathnayake also expressed disappointment at the decision and sought a clarification from the Foreign Ministry.
Deputy Foreign Minister, Dr. Harsha de Silva said that a full response will be made in Parliament at a later date.
Twenty-four countries, including Algeria, Brazil, China, Iran, Russia and South Africa, voted in favor of the UNESCO resolution on Thursday, while the six countries of the United States, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Estonia opposed it.
A total of 26 countries, including Albania, Argentina, France, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Sweden abstained from the vote. Serbia and Turkmenistan were absent.
The resolution strongly condemned “the escalating Israeli aggression and illegal measures against… the freedom of worship and Muslims’ access to their holy site al-Aqsa Mosque/al-Ḥaram al-Sharif,” and called on “Israel, the occupying power, to respect the historic status quo and to immediately stop these measures.”
It also criticized the “continuous storming of Haram al-Sharif by the Israeli right-wing extremists and uniformed forces.”
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina. (Colombo Gazette)