By Alhaji M.B. Jalloh, Press Attaché, Sierra Leone Embassy, Riyadh
Sierra Leone has urged the resumption of talks on the two- state solution as the sustainable path to deescalating tensions between Israel and Palestine.
In his statement at the Open-Ended Extraordinary Meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Executive Committee at the level of Foreign Ministers on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, held at Istanbul’s Swissotel, The Bosphourous, last Tuesday, 1st August, 2017, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Mohamed Gibril Sesay says Sierra Leone was disheartened by images of death and suffering in the holy land.
“We are disheartened by images of women and children wailing in grief in the land that we call holy. A holy place must be a place of peace, empathy and fraternity,” the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs told the main grouping of the world’s Muslim nations.
Dr. Gibril Sesay added that: “Images of a holy place that run counter to these expectations is very concerning to us. We call for the resumption of mediation processes, such as those of the Quartet’s Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative for the attainment of the two-state solution.”
The Minister also commended the concerted efforts of Egypt, France and Sweden that have called on the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting on the perennial crisis for an amicable and lasting solution between the two countries.
Dr. Gibril Sesay and Amb. Kargbo discussing regional issues with Gambian Justice minister, Abubacarr Tambadou at the OIC Meeting in Istanbul
Observers say, Israel angered the Islamic world by installing metal detectors and security cameras at the Haram Al-Sharif holy site in Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, following a July 14 attack in which gunmen killed two policemen.
The move sparked Muslim protests and deadly unrest, and a few days ago, the Israeli government removed the detectors and cameras. The site includes the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam.
Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu chaired the extraordinary meeting of his counterparts from the OIC that Ankara had called in its current capacity as chairman of the body. In his address to the top diplomats from the 57 member states organization, Cavusoglu said it was time Muslim countries start to help the Palestinians “not just with words but with actions.”
“We must act to protect the Al-Aqsa mosque and Palestine,” he said. He reaffirmed a call made by his President, Tayyip Erdogan on all Muslims to visit Jerusalem.
For his part, the OIC Secretary General, Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen underscored the importance of providing the necessary international protection for the Palestinian people, which he said, can only be achieved through the commencement of serious and effective negotiations to realize a just and comprehensive peace on the Palestinian issue, in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative (API), the two-state solution and the relevant international legitimacy resolutions.
The Minister’s delegation comprised Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Permanent Representative to the OIC, Alhaji Mohamed Sillah Kargbo.
The OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations, according to the OIC website, and it has membership of 57 states which spread over four continents. Sierra Leone became a member of the OIC in 1972 under the Presidency of Dr. Siaka P. Stevens.