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21 April 2004

OIC Special Meeting To Add Impetus To Growing Middle East Concern

KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 (Bernama) -- The special meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) in Putrajaya Thursday will add impetus to the growing international concern over the deteriorating situation in the Middle-East.

Held against the backdrop of world condemnation of Israel's assassination of two Hamas leaders and a major policy shift by the United States (US) in the region, the one-day meeting is expected to provide an impact.

While cynics may wonder if it can make any difference to the situation in Palestine and Iraq, the 57-member OIC cannot remain silent in finding solutions to resolve the conflicts.

"Yes, there will be some differences. We just can't sit down quietly," said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.

OIC hopes it can influence the international community and major powers on both issues by stating its stand.

Israel has come out with its unilateral road map by encroaching into Palestinian land when it laid out a plan for the withdrawl of its forces from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

The plan, endorsed by the US recently, was contrary to the Road Map brokered by the quartet - United Nations, the European Union, the US and Russia - towards a two-State solution.

In a move that broke with decades of US policy, President George W. Bush last week announced that Israel could retain some of the West Bank land it captured in the 1967 war.

He also rejected any right of return of Palestinian refugees to what is now Israel.

On top of that, Israeli Prime Minister Aerial Sharon gave the green light for the political assasination of two Hamas leaders with missile attacks.

World condemnation continued over the Israeli killing of Hamas leader Dr Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi in the West Bank on Saturday and its earlier assassination of another Hamas leader, Ahmed Yassin, on March 22.

In Iraq, the situation was getting worse with tension running high between the US-led occupying forces and the Iraqis fighting to protect their sovereign State, resulting in many deaths.

The International Movement for a Just World (JUST) President Dr Chandra Muzafar described Israel's political assassination as just another form of terrorism.

It would not contribute to the peace process but further escalate the act of terrorism worldwide, he said.

Dr Chandra said condemning such acts alone was not enough as all Governments, starting with those Arab States which had established ties with Israel, should cut off diplomatic, trade and military ties with the Tel Aviv regime.

The OIC meeting will be opened by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who has expressed the hope that it would find ways to resolve the Palestinian and Iraqi conflicts.

"I am sure there will be many ideas that will be discussed and we'll decide on the best that can be advanced and put into implementation," he told reporters here on Monday.

The meeting at the Putrajaya Convention Centre - venue of the 10th OIC Summit last October - will discuss the Palestinian issue in the morning and the Iraqi issue in the afternoon.

It is expected to come up with a declaration on Palestine calling on Israel to respect international law and also produce a statement on Iraq urging the United Nations to play a pivotal role in bringing about peace and stability in the country.


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