OIC Secretary General emphasizes the need for team spirit to resolve and face the challenges of the Palestinian question at the inauguration of the Expanded Emergency Meeting of Foreign Ministers of OIC Member States
The proceedings of the Expanded Emergency Meeting of the Executive Committee of the Organization of the Islamic Conference opened on Thursday 4 Safar 1428H (22 February 2007). The Meeting, which was attended by 10 Foreign Ministers, a large number of Permanent Representatives to the OIC and Ambassadors who led Member States’ delegations, was chaired by H.E. Mr Elmar Muharamoglu Mamedyarov, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan, in his capacity as the Current Chairman of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers. The Chairman opened the Meeting with a statement in which he reminded the participants of the objective behind the Meeting: to discuss the flagrant Israeli aggression against the Muslims’ first Qibla prayer direction and the point of departure of Prophet Muhammad’s night journey (PBUH) as well as the excavations in the surroundings of the Al Aqsa Mosque. The Meeting was thereafter addressed by Foreign Minister of Malaysia, Dato Seri Syed Muhammad Albar, in his capacity as the Current Chairman of the Islamic Summit Conference, who highlighted his country’s role in defending the Palestinian causes and stressed the need to arrive at pragmatic positions.
The Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, delivered an address which he began by mentioning how profoundly important the Palestinian question and the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque have been to the OIC since it was established. Describing the excavations being carried out by Israel at the Maghariba Gate and the surrounding of the Al Aqsa Mosque, the Secretary General stated that it was not only a flagrant violation of international law which prohibits the alteration of natural, demographic and civilizational hallmarks through occupation, but also a blatant aggression against the holy sites of Muslims and a human civilizational heritage. To stop and prevent the recurrence of this, he said, required collective Islamic and international action.
Professor Ihsanoglu also expressed his utter astonishment at the silence of the international community about the Israeli aggression whereas it took decisive positions on aggressions against cultural heritage and religious symbols in other parts of the world. On behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Professor Ihsanoglu directed an appeal to the entire world on the need for the City of Al Quds to return to its Palestinian owners, since it is an occupied territory, as well as the need to preserve its original identity as a human heritage and a city of convergence of divine religions and reverence by all believers.
The Secretary General also said that the excavations were not an isolated event, but rather part of a systematic Israeli policy that has been ongoing for many years aimed at Judaizing the City of Al Quds and its sacred places. He pointed out that the greatest threat to the Islamic identity of Al Quds is the Israeli policy of fait accompli which is being pursued in an effort to Judaize the City and deploy all methods to force its Palestinian inhabitants to flee.
In this regard, Professor Ihsanoglu called on OIC Member States on the need to provide huge material support to institutions in Al Quds’ institutions such as hospitals, schools, social welfare institutions and to provide its inhabitants with opportunities to remain and be steadfast to enable them resist the machinations targeting the City and its history.
At the end of his address, the Secretary General made a detailed presentation of his efforts as well as contacts with the current chair of the OIC, the United Nations, UNESCO, the Quartet and other parties so that they can pressurize Israel to stop its continued violation and aggression against the Palestinian territory and the Palestinian people. He also commended the praiseworthy initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz which led to the restoration of harmony between the Palestinian factions and culminated in the signing of Makkah Agreement that ended the Palestinian conflict. The Secretary General concluded his address by emphasizing the need for continued coordination in taking Islamic positions at international fora and the “spirit of a single team” in supporting the Palestinian question and dealing with the challenges facing the Islamic Ummah, a big nation with time-honoured history and enormous potentials.
Jeddah 22 February 2007