By Dr. Sami Al-Arian
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is convening a conference in Istanbul today to respond to the declaration by the U.S. President pronouncing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
It’s important to note that the OIC itself was established in 1969 as a direct result of the attempt to burn down the Aqsa mosque under Israeli military occupation.
Needless to say, the U.S. declaration will have a far-reaching impact not only regionally but also worldwide. Jerusalem is sacred to billions of Muslims and Christians around the world. It has been an Arab and Muslim city for over 1400 years.
And no peace can ever be achieved in the region if Palestinian and Arab rights are denied in the Holy Land. Even though countries and leaders sometimes make decisions based on ideological or political reasons, they would often change and reverse their positions when their vital interests are affected or threatened.
The U.S. has been a strong ally, advocate, and enabler of Israel despite its military occupation, war crimes, and total refusal to implementing scores of UN resolutions or end its military occupation and restore Palestinian rights.
Despite the outrage and anger expressed by tens of millions demonstrating around the world because of the American decision, so far no Muslim country has cut diplomatic relations with the U.S. or withdrawn its ambassador. No leader has closed U.S. military bases on his country’s soil or cancelled arms sales. No country has called for economic boycotts, oil embargo, or suspended trade deals, withdrew its massive investments and deposits (especially the gulf monarchies) that greatly help to sustain the American economy and stock market.
In short, no country has yet initiated the type of response that would attract the attention of American policymakers, congress, and economic elites.
Nevertheless, the OIC must present a strong and serious response in order to reverse this onslaught against the Muslim world, and restore Palestinian and Arab rights. The following suggestions represent the minimum steps needed to achieve such outcome.
(1) Cut all diplomatic relations and other dealings with Israel until total compliance with all relevant UN security council and general assembly resolutions have been implemented. It is important to note that there are many resolutions on Jerusalem and the Palestine issue that have been totally disregarded by Israel with impunity including the following UNSC resolutions on Jerusalem: 252 (1968), 267 (1969), 271 (1969), 298 (1971), 465 (1980),476 (1980), and 478 (1980).
(2) Give the U.S. a notice of two weeks to retract its decision, otherwise gradually stepping up the pressure by withdrawing their ambassadors and lowering the number of U.S. embassy staff, suspending arms sales and trade deals, ending or reducing the use of American dollars in oil sales, withdrawing investments in the American economy, and cutting or freezing diplomatic relations.
(3) Pledge to sever of all relations with any country that follows in the footsteps of the U.S. declaration on Jerusalem.
(4) Use all diplomatic and UN channels including the UN Security Council to isolate Israel and the U.S. Jerusalem declaration within the international community.
(5) Ask the International Court of Justice to declare the U.S. decision null and void in accordance with international law, and to lodge a complaint against Israel’s illegal settlement activities in Jerusalem and other war crimes in the occupied territories.
(6) Mobilize all relevant NGOs and peoples across the Muslim world as well as supporters of freedom and Palestinian rights across the world to keep the pressure through demonstrations and peaceful activities including giving full support to the BDS (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) movement worldwide.
(7) Call for a selected boycott campaign of U.S. products and companies by establishing a committee within the OIC that recommends which companies and products support Israel and its colonization project in Palestine, and thus to be isolated and boycotted.
(8) End all conflicts within the Muslim world, especially in Syria, Yemen, Libya, and elsewhere, call for unity, and declare Palestine and Jerusalem as a priority for all Muslim countries and as the central issue for the Muslim Umma and supporters of freedom around the world.
(9) Support the Palestinian struggle and resolve as follows:
(a) Encourage Palestinian unity and reconciliation among Palestinian factions.
(b) Support the Palestinian intifada and popular resistance underway until Israel fully complies with international law.
(c) Support PLO leadership to withdraw from the disastrous Oslo process, rescind Israeli recognition, stop its security cooperation with the occupiers, and end its participation in the sham U.S.-sponsored mediation that only encourages Israeli aggressive behavior and non-compliance.
(d) Provide all means of support to the Palestinian steadfastness in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and in Palestinian refugee camps around the world, in their struggle and resistance against Israeli brutal occupation, terrorism, and hegemony.
(10) If Jerusalem is the Muslim Umma’s red line as Turkish President Erdogan has declared, then the OIC needs to prepare the Islamic World for a long struggle against Israel and its enablers in all spheres and areas until Jerusalem is liberated and Palestinian rights are restored.
(The text above is a memorandum prepared by Dr. Sami Al-Arian, Director of the Center for Islam and Global Affairs, Istanbul Zaim University.)