Speaking more than a week before the 14th summit put together by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which will be hosted in Islam’s holiest city, Mekkah, OIC Secretary-General Yousef al-Othaimeen underlined the multitude of challenges faced by Muslim nations.
Foreign meddling, terrorism and Islamophobia, according to Othaimeen, are among the many adversities ailing Muslim countries today.
“The Islamic Summit is taking place in a critical moment in history, due to the fact that some Muslim member states are suffering from foreign interference in their their internal affairs, as well as terrorist, extremist, and Islamophobic incidents that have grown to considerably worrying levels, especially after witnessing the New Zealand terror shootings,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
When asked about the prospects for Washington’s Middle East peace plan, dubbed “deal of the century,” the OIC chief maintained reservations on the matter given the ambiguity engulfing the initiative.
Othaimeen, however, emphasized that any pitch for an Arab-Israeli political solution needs to fit international references and conventions, especially those designed for materializing a two-state solution.
“The OIC cannot take a stand on something that has not been officially announced or which details remain unknown, but we emphasize that any political efforts or initiatives to resolve the Palestinian issue must be consistent with agreed international references to achieve the vision of a two-state solution, including relevant UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative,” he said.
“In this regard, we reiterate our rejection of any attempts to impose unjust solutions on Palestinians or to question the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people,” Othaimeen reaffirmed.
Noting that the Palestinian cause and Jerusalem remain at the heart of the Muslim world, Othaimeen said that they figure high on the upcoming summit’s list of topics for discussion. Next to that, officials attending the conference will also seek to revamp the 1999 anti-terrorism agreement.
“The Palestinian cause is present at the summit, especially Jerusalem and what it faces on the level of political, economic and humanitarian challenges, such as frozen peace talks, continued Israeli occupation and denial of international resolutions and illegitimate settlements,” Othaimeen said, stressing that the Palestinian cause will remain the OIC’s top priority.
Although the 14th regular Islamic Summit is only part of OIC efforts to bring Muslims worldwide together, the organization’s chief stressed it provides an unequivocal boost to overall efforts by garnering political initiative among leaders of member states.
Listing the summit’s benefits, Othaimeen said: “It acts as an important focal point for a new phase and a vital station for developing strategy models for future goals.”