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Letter dated 14 November 2014 from the Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General
I am writing to you on behalf of the Ambassadorial Group of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to express the serious concerns of OIC about the grave breaches of international law that are being perpetrated by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in particular in Occupied East Jerusalem.
We are alarmed by acts of aggression at Al-Haram Al-Sharif, including the repeated storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli officials, settlers and extremist groups, which harm the sanctity of this Holy Site and have led to heightening tensions in the city. Such provocations have become more frequent and more aggressive in recent months and have been carried out with the surveillance and protection of Israeli occupying forces. Moreover, these provocations are happening simultaneously with dangerous incitement by Israeli government officials regarding the status of Al-Haram Al-Sharif. All of these actions are exacerbating the already fragile situation in Occupied East Jerusalem in a way that threatens to ignite a full-scale conflagration in the region. The complacency of the Israeli Government vis-a-vis such acts is a clear indication that it condones the attempts aimed at altering the Islamic character and identity of Al-Haram Al-Sharif, a matter that merely serves to incite more extremism and regional tension.
In this regard, we wish to express our absolute rejection of the provocative action undertaken on 5 November by Israel, the occupying Power, when it sealed Al-Haram Al-Sharif and prevented Muslim worshippers from accessing Al-Aqsa Mosque. This led to clashes between the Palestinian worshippers and the intruding Israeli religious fanatics, who were permitted by the Israeli authorities to enter. In a repugnant and provocative act, a group of Israeli extremist settlers, protected by hundreds of Israeli occupying forces, stormed the Mosque with their shoes in a shameful manner and threw Holy Quran books on the floor of the Mosque, desecrating the sanctity of one of the most holy sites for the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims. Israeli occupying forces also attacked Palestinian worshippers with rubber-coated bullets and fired stun grenades, seriously injuring dozens of Palestinians.
Likewise, Israel, the occupying Power, continues to suppress the religious rights and freedoms of the Palestinian people by restricting the number and age of worshippers accessing Al-Aqsa Mosque. Furthermore, harsh restrictions continue to be imposed by Israel, obstructing the access of Palestinians, Muslims and Christians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the Holy City and its Holy Sites for two decades.
Several Israeli officials have declared, on numerous occasions, the Government’s intention to extend Israel’s control over Al-Haram Al-Sharif. Alongside these announcements, Israeli lawmakers and government officials continue to express rhetoric about the so-called plans for spatial and temporal division of Al-Aqsa Mosque. OIC condemns and firmly rejects all such illegal and provocative attempts by Israel, the occupying Power, to alter the decades-long status quo at Al-Haram Al-Sharif, and demands respect for the historic arrangements in this regard that have preserved the sanctity and security of this Holy Site over the years.
OIC condemns such ongoing assaults on or tampering with the Muslim Holy Sites in Occupied East Jerusalem. We deplore Israel’s support of extremist groups, including encouragement and protection for groups that have repeatedly carried out incursions at Al-Haram Al-Sharif and have repeatedly issued threats against it. We also recall the obligation of all States under international human rights law to prohibit any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.
OIC calls urgently on the Security Council to act immediately to uphold its resolutions, with a view to ensuring Israel’s respect of the relevant resolutions as well as compliance with its obligations under international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention. We urge the Security Council to act forthwith to compel Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately halt all aggressions against Islamic holy sites in Occupied East Jerusalem, and halt all illegal practices, provocative actions and incitement. In this regard, OIC calls upon the Council to immediately demand that Israel respect the longstanding status quo and arrangements at Al-Haram Al-Sharif and that it cease any attempts to alter it.
I should be grateful if you would circulate the present letter as a document of the General Assembly, under agenda items 35, 36 and 52, and of the Security Council.