Foreign affairs clash

MINISTER of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator tor Kamina Johnson Smith has scoffed at calls for her resignation by the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP).

The PNP has charged that Johnson Smith should go over Jamaica’s failure to vote on a resolution calling for a “humanitarian truce” in Gaza during a recent meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Opposition spokeswoman on foreign affairs and foreign trade Lisa Hanna made the first call for Johnson Smith to resign and doubled down in a column in this week’s Sunday Observer.

“My call for the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith to step aside last week was not taken lightly, and is not personal,” said Hanna in the column.

“The Government’s excuse for Jamaica’s absence in the vote is unsatisfactory. The minister stated in a release that consultations did not conclude in time for Jamaica to participate.

“There was no need for consultation. Jamaica is chair of the Caucus of Caricom (Caribbean Community) Foreign Ministers, which had already taken an agreed position in support; therefore, a simple vote of ‘yes’ with our other Caricom member states was appropriate. Instead, we have trampled on years of our courageous global activism,” added Hanna as she charged that Jamaica’s respected international stature has dramatically fallen under Johnson Smith.

But speaking at the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Ocho Rios Division Conference on Sunday, Johnson Smith argued that Hanna was commenting without being aware of the facts.

“I am not a lady who is into cass-cass. I am a lady who is into doing my work… and making Jamaica better. But if you bring crosses to me, I am going to defend myself,” declared Johnson Smith in what was clear a response to Hanna’s column even though she did not name the Opposition spokeswoman.

“So this thing now ’bout I must resign, whey she come from with that? But sometimes some people are so hungry for the headline that them don’t do the work,” added Johnson Smith.

The minister told Labourities at the meeting that if the person who called for her resignation had done even a little research she would have known that Jamaica had delivered a Caricom statement on the matter.

“A statement [was done] on behalf of the whole of Caricom, including Jamaica; we write the statement, we draft it, we led the discussion on it. So it is not a thing nobody don’t know where we stand on the issue. A little communication thing happened, yes, and that was a problem and we are going to fix that problem,” said Johnson Smith as she charged that people who understand the system would know that it became complicated on the day of the UN vote.

“Different countries were suggesting all kinds of different things that complicated the matter during the day. I want to tell you that if she had just done some research and listened to the statement, listened to the fact that Jamaica said that there should be a cessation of hostilities, Jamaica said there was no justification for killing innocent people, Jamaica said we call for peace…,” added Johnson Smith.

The minister also rubbished Hanna’s claim that her decision or advice to the Government was “most egregious and disgraceful” and was destroying Jamaica’s “enviable reputation of courage and activism in the international arena and eroding years of consistently approaching decision-making on principle”.

“Jamaica’s position on the world stage is strong. Don’t listen to what the PNP is saying. And there are some people who their thing is to bad-mouth Jamaica. I don’t know if that was who she was talking to but there are some people who are like that.

“Jamaica is large and trusted on the international stage and nothing the PNP says will change that,” declared Johnson Smith, who faced additional calls for her resignation from PNP President Mark Golding Sunday night.

Addressing a presentation of candidates at St Elizabeth Technical High School Golding said, while the PNP condemns what Hamas did in Israel it is convinced that “two wrongs don’t make a right”.

“The citizens, the civilians in Gaza, they must not be punished for what Hamas did,” said Golding as he pointed to the number of people, including children, being killed in Israel’s response to the Hamas attack.

“It is a disgrace and Comrade Lisa Hanna has called for the resignation of the minister of foreign affairs for what has happened in this instance and many things before, and I say time come for that too,” added Golding.