Home > Middle East, Palestine, UN > Fith Extraordinary OIC Summit on Palestine

Fith Extraordinary OIC Summit on Palestine


  Yesterday I attended the 5th Extraordinary Summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Palestine and al-Quds al-Sharif. It was called for President Abbas and hosted by Indonesia. The Summit was effective in focusing attention in the Islamic world and more broadly across the international community on the situation in Palestine. With so many trouble spots in the region, Palestinians rightly feel that their cause should not be sidelined.
The Secretary General of OIC, Iyad al Madani, whom I have known since my days in Iraq and for whom I have great respect, spoke of the need for the OIC to take a more active role on the issue. He rightly focused on the need for reconciliation and the reunification of Gaza and the West Bank. His words were strongly echoed by Indonesian President Webobo and others. Much was also said of the need to focus on the Holy Sites of Jerusalem and the continued fear that the city is losing its Christian, Muslim character. I was happy to hear Prince Hassan of Jordan list extensively what the Hasemite Kingom is doing to ensure that the sanctity of the Holy Sites is observed and protected. In his remarks President Abbas reiterated his warning that if Israel fails to implement prior agreements, the Palestinians will not no longer feel bound by them. He also expressed his support for the recent French ideas also noting that he is working on taking the issue of settlements to the UN Security Council. I found it interesting that he also focused on the need for the OIC and the Islamic Development Bank to work more actively on supporting the Palestinian identity of East Jerusalem.
In my remarks I conveyed the greetings of the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon to this Summit and thanked the President and the people of Indonesia for their extraordinary hospitality.
I spoke of the challenge that the Middle East faces as it continues to endure violent upheaval characterised by terror, radicalism and sectarianism that threatens to undermine state legitimacy and reshape the region’s geopolitics. In this changing and unpredictable context, establishing lasting peace and security for Palestine and Israel based on the two-state solution has never been more urgent.
Unfortunately settlements keep expanding and chipping away at the viability of a Palestinian state while thousands of Palestinian homes in the West Bank risk demolition because of obstacles that may be legal on paper but are discriminatory in practice. Palestinians – particularly youth – are losing hope. They see the impact of almost fifty years of conflict on the overall social fabric of their communities; they experience the daily humiliations of the occupation; they resent the fact that leaders have consistently failed to deliver on the promise of achieving statehood; and many feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness at they see no end in sight of the occupation.
Disillusionment, anger and fear cannot justify terror or violence. The United Nations has condemned all such acts. Stabbings will not bring about Palestinian statehood just as denying the dignity of Palestinians will not bring about security for Israelis.
The current spiral of violence cannot be reversed by security means alone. It must be addressed at the political level with leaders showing a horizon to their people. It was sparked by a perception among Palestinians that the status quo at the Holy Sites in Jerusalem was violated. On behalf of the Secretary-General I once again welcomed the understandings reached in October 2015 between Israel and Jordan that reduced tensions and strongly encourages their continued implementation. All efforts should be made to ensure the historic status quo is preserved in words and in practice.
I was keen to brief the Summit participants of the efforts that the UN, together with the United States, Russia, and the European Union — all part of the Middle East Quartet, have undetaken to break the political impasse. I spoke of our efforts as Quartet Envoys to travel to the region and meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, to consult with Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia on how to preserve the two-state solution and how to create the conditions for the return to meaningful negotiations. We have collectively called for significant policy shifts by Israel, consistent with prior agreements, which are essential to transforming the current dynamics. We have voiced our serious concern that current trends on the ground – including continued acts of violence against civilians, incitement, ongoing settlement activity, and the high rate of demolitions of Palestinian structures – are dangerously imperilling the viability of a two-state solution. It was encouraging to hear the same message from the US, Russia and the EU.
As other participants, I noted the UN’s support for all efforts undertaken to advance genuine Palestinian reconciliation on the basis of the PLO principles, democracy and non-violence. The formation of a National Unity Government that abides by the PLO programme and the conduct of long-overdue elections are important elements of this process.
I also wanted to brief the Summit on the latest Middle East Quartet’s meeting in Munich at which the Foreign Ministers of the United States, Russia, the High Representative of the European Union and the Secretary General of the United Nations decided that we will prepare a report on the situation on the ground, identify the dangers to a two-state solution, and provide recommendations on the way forward. Our goal is to work with key stakeholders, including regional countries and the UN Security Council, to stabilise the situation and to actively support a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
In closing, on behalf of the Secretary-General, I welcomed Indonesia’s steadfast commitment to the establishment of a unified and democratic Palestinian state and noted how much he appreciates the strengthened cooperation between the OIC and the United Nations in support of the long-denied aspirations of Palestinians to achieve statehood. I know that he looks forward to continuing and expanding this cooperation in the cause of advancing the prospects for peace and ultimately establishing a Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel – a goal that has unfortunately remained elusive for far too long.
Outside of the plenary meeting, the Summit provided an excellent opportunity to have bilateral meetings, meet some old friends and establish new relationships. I was glad to meet the Special Envoy of China for the Middle East and look forward to engaging with him more actively in the future. Similarly I had a useful exchange with the US Envoy for the OIC and others. A quick chat with an old friend and former colleague– Khalid al-Khalifa, Foreign Minister of Bahrain who currently chairs the Arab League Foreign Ministers Council, helped prepare some of the work that I will have to undertake in Egypt in a couple of days.
Jakarta has been noisy, stuck in traffic but very hospitable and I have to thank the UN team on the ground for the quick turnaround in helping prepare this quick trip. Back to the airport this morning for an early flight to Cairo and two intense days of meetings with Egyptian authorities and the League of Arab States.

Categories: Middle East, Palestine, UN
  1. 08/03/2016 at 04:19

    Great Post.

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