OIC should take a collective decision on ties with Israel
Some important Arab countries have already established diplomatic relations with Israel, after which they have also started trade with the Jewish state.
Many other Islamic countries are keenly monitoring the situation before making a decision on this important subject. There are also states that will like to follow Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam.
Once the oil-rich kingdom took a decision, the way would be paved for many to follow suit.
It is in these circumstances that the Saudi foreign minister has given an important interview on the subject.
According to Arab News, the mouthpiece of the kingdom, the Saudi foreign minister says any potential deal to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel would benefit the Middle East but depends on the progress of the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.
“The normalization of Israel’s status within the region would bring tremendous benefits to the region as a whole,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan said during an interview with CNN. “It would be extremely helpful economically, socially and from a security perspective,” he said.
What is very encouraging for the Islamic countries is the assertion by the Saudi minister that any potential deal would only be possible if progress towards peace between Israel and Palestine is made, with Palestinians being given a sovereign state based on 1967 borders.
“I don’t know if (a deal is) imminent, it’s very much dependent on progress with the peace process,” Prince Faisal said. “There is, of course, a normalization deal on the table — it has been on the table since 2002; it’s called the Arab peace plan. And even before that we had the Fez initiative, which was presented by the Kingdom in 1982 and puts forward the prospect of full and complete normalization with Israel in return for a just settlement to the Palestinian issue.
“Now, normalization in the region can only be successful if we address the issue of the Palestinians and if we are able to deliver a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders that gives the Palestinians dignity and gives them their rights. If we can find a path towards that, then I think we can see a much, much safer region and a much more prosperous one where everybody can contribute to its success, including Israel,” he said.
When asked about the potential for Israeli Muslims performing pilgrimage to Makkah, Prince Faisal said that would also depend on progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
“We haven’t agreed to it, but, as I said, if we have progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, then we would, hopefully, welcome Israeli citizens of all faiths to the Kingdom, not just Muslims,” he said.
UAE and Bahrain were the first Arab nations to normalize ties with Israel since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. Sudan and Morocco have since followed suit.
While the Saudi minister’s stance on the Palestinian state is very encouraging, it should take all Islamic countries along.
The best way for this is to take a collective decision from the OIC’s platform.
A meeting of the body should be convened at the earliest so that all aspects of the matters could be discussed at length before taking a joint decision.
This is incumbent upon the Saudi kingdom because of its status among the Islamic countries. In case it did not take the initiative and the OIC states continued taking individual decisions the OIC would become irrelevant.
While it is regrettable that some important countries have already taken individual decisions on relations with Israel, it leaves a bad impression about the state of unity of Islamic countries.
The OIC’s stand on the rights of Palestinians will certainly be welcomed by the helpless people who have been left alone and who are enduring Israeli atrocities.