Prince Saud: Israel has no right to self-defense
Saudi Arabia has said that the actions of the Palestinian resistance group, Hamas, cannot be equated with Israel’s mass killings.
Addressing a press conference after chairing an extraordinary meeting of the foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Jeddah on Tuesday, Prince Saud Al-Faisal slammed Israel for committing crimes against humanity.
“You cannot equate the actions of Hamas and Israel, either in scale or in substance,” he said in response to a question on whether Hamas had taken adequate steps to seek a peaceful resolution of the current conflict. “It is not fair, there is no way you can put the two together.”
“How can you say that Israel has a right to defend itself when it is the occupier and you do not give the same right to Hamas?” he said.
“When Hamas fires rockets, it is considered a terrorist while Israel, which thinks it has the moral right to kill hundreds and thousands of Palestinians in response to one soldier, is not? Where is the justice?”
Prince Saud said Israel was an occupying force that had stolen the territory of the Palestinians.
“Israel wants to destroy and kill an entire population so that it can steal more land,” he said. “Israel does not have the right to self defense as an occupier. There is no law, there is no international law, that says an occupier has a right to self defense.”
He said Israel must reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians if it is to survive as a nation.
“Israel has to realize that peace is the only solution for its survival,” he said.
“As we see, Israel does not shy away from taking its terror to any level in order to achieve its goals with total disregard for any laws, rules, religious edicts or humanitarian considerations.”
In his opening address at the OIC headquarters on Jeddah’s famous Madinah Road, the seasoned foreign minister criticized Muslims for being divided.
“Has not Israel been encouraged to commit its crimes against the Palestinian people by what it is seeing of weakness of the nation because of its breakdown, divisions and the spread of sedition?” he asked.
Quoting a Qur’anic verse, Prince Saud said God would not change the destiny of a community unless and until it takes the lead itself.
“This meeting should not be seen as the continuation of previous meetings. This is not a condolence meeting. Now is the time to act as one Ummah,” he said.
He said the Muslim world was like one body. “If one part is affected, the whole body is in pain,” he said. “We need to stand united in confronting Israel. The enemy is taking advantage of our division. When Muslims shed the blood of Muslims, this makes us weak. When one country tries to expand at the expense of other, this creates division, dissension.”
Prince Saud said Saudi Arabia would continue to do its part. He noted that the Kingdom had spared no effort in supporting the Palestinian cause in all international forums.
He said the Kingdom had authorized the release of $500 million through the Saudi Fund for Development as Saudi Arabia’s share for the reconstruction of Gaza. This is in addition to $300 million that was granted to the Palestinian Ministry of Health and Palestinian Red Crescent.
He said that the OIC would stand as one bloc for the rights of the Palestinian people and would make the world fully aware that Israel could not continue its aggression against the Palestinians without paying a price and further that Israel should realize that peace was the only option for its survival.
OIC Secretary-General Iyad Ameen Madani stressed that the meeting had been called to take a stance that expresses the organization’s firm support for the Palestinian people and to exert all efforts to stop the bloodshed and to defend the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights.
He also said that OIC had launched an appeal to the international community and its institutions to intervene immediately in order to stop Israeli aggression and to supply immediate humanitarian requirements.
This is the second ministerial meeting to deal with Palestine in a month. The last one was on July 10, he said.
Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah made a passionate plea for urgent financial and in-kind assistance to meet the needs of the besieged Gazans. He said there was no safe place for Gazans. “The whole territory is leveled; hundreds and thousands of homes have been demolished; there are no shelters and no water,” he said. “Things are very dire.”
He acknowledged the unflinching support of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for the Palestinian cause.
Hamdallah called for urgent help to reconstruct Gaza and for the immediate lifting of the blockade. “We need help. We need assistance in terms of humanitarian relief and political support to get the siege (on Gaza) lifted. Palestine is in danger. The holy city of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque is being threatened,” he said.
He concluded his speech by saying, “Allahuma inni qad ballaghtu (O God, you are my witness that I have conveyed the message),” thus reminding the leaders what Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said during his historic last sermon on the plains of Arafat, near Makkah, more than 1,400 years ago.
The Palestinian prime minister was essentially stating that he has explained the state of affairs in Palestine to the Muslim world. “I have done my job. It is now your responsibility to take all necessary steps,” he said.
The OIC displayed a united front. The secretary-general said the talks were frank and fruitful. The meeting was attended by many foreign ministers of the OIC member states, including Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey, Sartaz Aziz of Pakistan, Nasser Judeh of Jordan, Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah of Kuwait and Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Al-Khalifa of Bahrain.
Iran’s foreign minister was not present. Culture and Islamic Affairs Minister Ali Jannati represented him at the meeting.
Speaking at the meeting, Sartaj Aziz said: “Israel’s assault on unarmed Palestinian children and women was deliberate. So assured was Israel of the lack of any consequence, that it pursued its massacre unflinchingly. Israel’s disdain for international human rights and humanitarian law should be a matter of grave concern for the international community.”
In a final communique issued at the end of the deliberations, the OIC paid tribute to the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in the face of Israeli aggression. It extended full support to the just struggle of the Palestinian people to regain their inalienable right to an independent state of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.
“The Israeli violations, including the ongoing military aggression against Gaza, constitute war crimes as well as serious violations of international law,” the communique said.
The OIC expressed full support for the Palestinian national reconciliation government. It also stressed the need to provide urgent support for the Palestinian people.
The OIC welcomed the UN Human Rights Council resolution and demanded expeditious implementation of its provisions, in particular urgent dispatching of an independent international investigation commission to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and in particular, the occupied Gaza Strip.
Of the 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council, 29 nations voted to set up a commission to launch an international, independent inquiry, effectively passing the resolution. Seventeen countries abstained, including Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.
The OIC expressed deep regret about the US vote against the resolution, and the abstention of European countries. “This will encourage Israel to persist in its military aggression and violation of international law,” it said.
The OIC called upon the international community to pressure Israel to end the illegal blockade of Gaza, open border crossings and ensure the free movement of people, materials and goods to and from the Gaza Strip.