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OIC calls on all Muslims to help Palestinians


By Maha Akeel

JEDDAH, Arab News — The Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu yesterday called upon all Muslim nations and individuals to continue their financial support of the Palestinian people. He was addressing a press conference at the OIC headquarters here with Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar.

With the growing international pressure on the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas to renounce violence and the resulting financial strangulation of the Palestinian people, the OIC is pledging a mechanism to help relieve some of the economic burden.

The United States and the European Union have both cut off all economic aid to the Palestinians until Hamas renounces violence and recognizes the state of Israel.

Zahar requested $93.4 million from the Kingdom, which is the Saudi share of aid to the Palestinians for the past six months. “We haven’t received anything yet but our experience is that Saudi Arabia does not hold back.”

Zahar spoke about his talks with Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, and developments with Jordan. Zahar was to travel to Jordan yesterday but Amman called off the visit accusing Hamas of attempting to smuggle arms into Jordan.

“Hamas does not store weapons in any Arab country. Hamas was never a side in any conflict between Arab countries or any other country for that matter,” said Zahar.

Ihsanoglu called on the international community to respect the Palestinian people’s democratic choice and not to punish them for it. He called on the United Nations to start a dialogue with the new Palestinian government and urged Hamas to deal realistically with the international community.

“In the name of the OIC we call on Muslim countries and civil society institutions to support the Palestinian people. We are calling on all OIC member states to provide financial support to the Palestinian government through the special mechanisms of the OIC in the Islamic Development Bank,” said Ihsanoglu. He also referred to the 10-year plan approved by the Makkah Islamic summit to collect a dollar from every individual in the Muslim world to help the Palestinian people.§ion=0&article=81015&d=20&m=4&y=2006

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