ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said that peace cannot be guaranteed in the Middle East without resolving the longstanding Palestine issue.

Addressing a joint news conference with the visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas here, the premier urged the world to help resolve the hot issue which had the potential to explode into a war.

Sharif said that Pakistan had always advocated the Palestine issue and backed a peaceful solution to the Palestine-Israel dispute.

Abbas arrived last day on a busy visit to Pakistan during which he held meetings with the Pakistani leadership. The two sides discussed the Israeli aggression which was a constant threat to peace.

Pakistan has always supported the Palestinian people in their struggle for independence of their homeland from Israel. Islamabad also raises the issue regularly at the international forums including the United Nations.

Islamabad maintains a principled position on the issue of Palestine calling for an independent and sovereign Palestinian state with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered to build new Jewish colonies in the occupied areas sending a wave of concern among the Muslim countries. Netanyahu’s action came amid US President Donald Trump’s support for Israel as he invited the Israeli PM to a meeting this month.

PM Sharif said that the world needed to wake up to the Palestine issue and stop Israeli aggression. “Pakistan is always behind the Palestinian people. We want the issue to be resolved at the earliest through peaceful means,” he said.

He called for the implementation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions to withdraw Israeli forces from the occupied territory.

The premier said that the establishment of a viable, independent and contagious state of Palestine with pre-1969 borders and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital was the only guarantee for sustainable peace in the region.

The prime minister said that Pakistan was firm in its support for the just cause of Palestinian people.

President Abbas thanked Pakistan for its “steadfast support for the cause of Palestinian people” besides financial assistance and scholarships for Palestinian students in Pakistani universities.

The Palestinian president said that he had briefed Sharif about the latest Israeli aggression and developments in respect of Middle East. “We spoke about the Israeli settlements and the US decision to shift its embassy to Jerusalem,” he said.

He said that there was a complete unanimity of views between Pakistan and Palestine on regional and international issues. “Pakistan is our key supporter and we value this friendship,” he said.

Abbas said that the two sides also exchanged views on regional issues and the challenge of terrorism.

Prior to the media interaction, Sharif and Abbas held a one-on-one meeting, which was followed by delegation-level talks. “There was a complete identity of views between the two sides on issues of mutual interests,” said an official statement.

Later, President Abbas and PM Sharif inaugurated the Palestinian embassy building in Islamabad. The government of Pakistan had gifted a plot of land in 1992 for the construction of the Palestinian Embassy Complex in the Diplomatic Enclave. In 2013, Pakistan also contributed towards its construction.    

Referring to the new embassy building, Sharif said: “This project is a symbol of our brotherly ties.”

Earlier, a formal welcome ceremony for the visiting Palestinian president was held at the Prime Minister’s House.  National anthems of the two countries were played on the occasion. A smartly turned out contingent of the armed forces presented salute and guard of honour to the Palestinian president, said an official statement.