September 15, 2019
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki warns dispute with Israel is now religious conflict
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ibrahim Al-Assaf calls on international community to shoulder its responsibilities
JEDDAH: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Sunday expressed its “total rejection” of the Israeli prime minister’s pre-election pledge to annex part of the West Bank, Saudi state media said.
Battling to win re-election in polls on Tuesday, Benjamin Netanyahu made a deeply controversial promise last week to annex the strategic Jordan Valley, which accounts for around a third of the occupied West Bank.
He also repeated his intention to annex Israeli settlements in the wider West Bank, but in coordination with US President Donald Trump.
After an emergency foreign ministers’ meeting in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, the OIC expressed “its total rejection and strong condemnation of the Israeli Prime Minister’s declaration.”
“This dangerous declaration… deliberately undermines international efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace… and pushes the whole region toward further violence and instability,” the 57-member pan-Islamic body added in a statement carried by Saudi state media.
The emergency meeting of OIC foreign ministers was called at the request of Saudi Arabia, which has unilaterally condemned Netanyahu’s pledge as a “dangerous escalation.”
The multilateral statement comes as Netanyahu’s government on Sunday approved a new settlement in the occupied West Bank.
The Israeli cabinet agreed to turn the wildcat settlement of Mevoot Yericho in the Jordan Valley into an official settlement, the premier’s office said.
Netanyahu’s moves could essentially destroy any remaining hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
His pledge to annex the Jordan valley has drawn firm condemnation from the Palestinians, the United Nations, the European Union the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Arab states.
Speaking at an emergency meeting in Jeddah, the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ibrahim Al-Assaf called on the international community to “shoulder its responsibilities’ regarding the “ongoing Israeli violations against the Palestinian people.”
“We condemn the dangerous escalation by the Israeli Prime Minister,” Al-Assaf added.
And he said that any announcements or actions on the matter by Israel were “null and void.”
“We condemn Israel’s continued attempt to change the historical identity of Palestine,” OIC Secretary General, Yousef Al-Othaimeen told the emergency meeting on Sunday.
And he added: “We call on the international community to put an end to Israel’s aggressive policies against the Palestinian people.”
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki warned the meeting that the dispute with Israel had become a religious conflict because of its violations.
And he described the announcement regarding the Jordan Valley as a “serious threat.”
“Netanyahu’s announcement of its intention to include the Jordan Valley undermines international agreements and resolutions,” Al-Maliki added.