Al-Aqsa Mosque issue is a red line, warns OIC

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli security forces on Monday near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP)
Updated 24 July 2017
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Al-Aqsa Mosque issue is a red line, warns OIC

JEDDAH: The 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will meet in Istanbul, Turkey, on Aug. 1 to discuss the crisis around Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, it said in a statement Monday. Turkey currently holds the OIC presidency.
“The issue of Al-Aqsa Mosque is a red line that can never be toyed with under any circumstances,” the OIC said in a statement after a meeting in Jeddah.
“Attacking Al-Aqsa Mosque in any way and under whatever pretext will have serious consequences and will lead to instability in the region,” it added.
The statement was read by Ambassador Samir Bakr Diyab, the OIC’s assistant secretary-general for Palestine affairs, on behalf of Secretary-General Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen.
The statement was delivered at the opening of the emergency meeting of the OIC committee of permanent representatives, which discussed the ongoing developments in Al-Quds Al-Shareef.
The OIC warned that “compromising Al-Aqsa Mosque in any form and under any circumstances will have very grave consequences.”
Ambassador Diyab remarked that “the ongoing events at Al-Aqsa were premeditated and planned for execution by Israel, the occupying power, in order to gain full control of Al-Aqsa and to begin to divide it temporally and spatially the way it did with the Ibrahimi Mosque.”
The statement saluted and praised the Palestinian people, particularly those in Al-Quds, who lead in defending their city and holy sites on behalf of the entire Islamic Ummah.
“Israel defies and denigrates international resolutions on a daily basis,” the statement pointed out.
The secretary-general also said that “the fast rate of Israeli plans aimed at Judaizing Al-Quds is unprecedented, particularly after UNESCO’s endorsement of the resolution affirming that Al-Aqsa is one of Islam’s holy sites.”
Ambassador Taysir Jaradat, undersecretary of Palestine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called for “full condemnation of all Israeli measures seeking to change the existing historical condition and prevent Muslims from accessing Al-Aqsa Mosque to freely practice their religious rites.”
Jaradat also called for the establishment of an OIC committee to follow up these processes and generate ideas for comprehensive action by international organizations, human rights groups and influential states in the international community to play a role in pressuring Israel to rescind its decisions.
Jaradat urged the international community to assume its responsibilities in relation to “this grave violation which requires joint Arab and Islamic action at all levels.”


UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians

Updated 18 August 2018
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UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday presented four options aimed at boosting the protection of Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories, from sending UN rights monitors and unarmed observers to deploying a military or police force under UN mandate.
The proposals were contained in a report requested by the General Assembly in response to a surge of violence in Gaza, where 171 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since late March.
The UN chief stressed that for each of the options, cooperation by Israel and the Palestinians would be necessary. It remained unlikely however that Israel would agree to the proposals.
In the 14-page report, Guterres proposed:
• Providing a “more robust UN presence on the ground” with rights monitors and political officers to report on the situation.
• Pouring in more UN humanitarian and development aid to “ensure the well-being of the population.”
• Creating a civilian observer mission that would be present in sensitive areas such as checkpoints and near Israeli settlements, with a mandate to report on protection issues.
• Deploying an armed military or police force, under a UN mandate, to provide physical protection to Palestinian civilians.
A UN mandate for a protection force would require a decision from the Security Council, where the United States could use its veto power to block a measure opposed by Israel.
A small European-staffed observer mission was deployed in the West Bank city of Hebron in 1994, but Israel has since rejected calls for an international presence in flashpoint areas.
In the report, Guterres said the United Nations was already undertaking many protection initiatives but that “these measures fall short” of the concerns raised in a General Assembly resolution adopted in June.
In that measure, the 193-nation assembly condemned Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza and tasked Guterres with the drafting of proposals for “an international protection mechanism” for the Palestinians.
Guterres argued that a political solution to the conflict was needed to address the safety of Palestinians but that “until such a solution is achieved, member-states may further explore all practical and feasible measures that will significantly improve the protection of the Palestinian civilian population.”
“Such measures would also improve the security of Israeli civilians.”
On Friday, Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians taking part in protests along the Gaza border and 270 other Palestinians were wounded.
Israel has defended its use of live ammunition in Gaza by invoking its right to self-defense. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in July.
“The targeting of civilians, particularly children, is unacceptable,” Guterres said in the report, adding that “those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law must be held accountable.”
UN efforts to ensure the well-being of Palestinians must strengthened, he added, singling out the funding crisis at the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA as being “of particular concern.”
UNRWA is facing a major budget shortfall after President Donald Trump’s administration decided to withhold its contribution to the agency.
The report released to all UN member-states comes amid a vacuum in Middle East peace efforts as European and other big powers await a peace plan from the Trump administration that has been under discussion for months.
UN diplomats have recently begun questioning whether the US peace plan will ever materialize.
The United Nations has warned that a new war could explode in Gaza.
Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, including its Hamas rulers, have fought three wars since 2008.