OIC and Trump
Formed in 1969, spanning over four continents with 57 member countries, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) who claims itself a ‘collective voice’ of Muslim world has gradually lost its effectiveness due to internal rift and competing national interests among its member states. Trump’s recent decision on Jerusalem has presented OIC another opportunity to revive its effectiveness and respect among Muslim world.
In reaction to recent Trump’s Jerusalem decision Turkey as chair of the OIC had called ‘extraordinary’ Summit of OIC. This was sixth ‘extraordinary’ Summit of OIC since its establishment. During the Summit, OIC has appealed to world to recognise Jerusalem as occupied capital of Palestine. It has also reiterated its support for Palestinian cause. OIC has condemned the violence of Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) on Palestinian nonviolent protestors including women and children. Palestinian President, Mehmood Abbas had condemned the US decision of recognising Jerusalem as capital of Israel. He had also said that the US has lost its position as a mediator.
However, the current OIC summit seems another episode of OIC’s lip service over Palestinian cause. Contrary to emotional claims at OIC forums, some member states of OIC have very good relations with Israel. For instance, Israel imports more than 77 percent of its oil from Kurdish region of Iraq through Turkish port of Ceyhan. Likewise, due to national and regional security imperatives, the US maintains cordial relations with majority of OIC member countries. Many OIC member countries wait anxiously for the US aid every year. In this backdrop, will OIC member countries abandon their relations with the US or Israel? Will Turkey (current chair of OIC) and Iraq discontinue oil transactions to Israel? The answer of all above mentioned questions is utterly “NO”.
So question arises what OIC can do beyond words? Sometimes, it is better to face reality and act pragmatically. Perhaps, OIC can adopt three concrete and practical measures, which can not only sensitise Palestinian cause but these measures can also rejuvenate effectiveness of the organisation.
Firstly, the OIC extraordinary summit might not break silence of United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Hence, OIC can evoke special session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). UN Charter’s Article 20 of Chapter IV allows evoking such special sessions of UNGA. It says “Special sessions shall be convoked by the Secretary General at the request of the Security Council or of a majority of the Members of the United Nations”. Since 1947, 30 special sessions of UNGA have been called by the members of the UNSC or UN General Secretary. Among these 30 special sessions of UNGA, two sessions were called on the Palestinian conflict in 1947 and 1948 by the United Kingdom (UK) and UNSC respectively. It is highly unfortunate that Muslim countries have never evoked special session of UNGA either for Palestine or Kashmir. By evoking UNGA special session, OIC can present resolution for condemnation of Trump’s decision and Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.
Secondly, member states of OIC can make their own relations with countries (other than Israel and the US) dependent on their reaction to Trump’s decision on Jerusalem at various levels with seriousness. This proactive approach of OIC can increase list of supportive countries for Palestinian cause. This act will help in restraining diplomatic manoeuvring of Israel for recognition of Jerusalem as its capital. The focus should be on passing resolution in UNGA against Trump’s decision and Israel’s occupation.
Lastly, OIC has not remained consistent in sensitising Palestinian issue. It had passed several resolutions of solidarity with Palestinians in past but couldn’t practically sensitise and successfully develop a collective approach to deal with this issue. Last year on March 7, 2016 OIC had called its fifth ‘extraordinary’ session in Jakarta and repeated same words, what have been said in Istanbul on December 13, 2017. Hence, rather passing more resolutions and convening ‘extraordinary’ sessions, OIC must practically engage other countries (particularly the western community) consistently to put diplomatic pressure on the US and Israel for resolution of Palestinian dispute.
To conclude, it is less expected that another episode of lip service by OIC could change the fate of Palestinians. OIC must take practical measures – evoke UNGA special session, make relations dependent with other countries on Palestinian cause, consistently manoeuvre for diplomatic actions – in order to provide a hope to Palestinians whose two complete generations have experienced occupation and repression from Israel.
The writer works for IPRI, a think tank based in Islamabad.