In a written statement distributed to the media yesterday, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said UN Resolution 1559, which calls for disarming Hezbollah, was only one among the many resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council.
"Other important UN resolutions were neither implemented nor enforced ... They (the UN resolutions) constitute an integral and indivisible whole and (as such) should be implemented as a whole and not on a selective basis," Ihsanoglu said in a pointed reference to UN Resolutions 242 and 338.
UN Resolution 242 was adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council on Nov. 22, 1967, in the aftermath of the Six-Day War. It calls for the withdrawal of Israel from territories it occupied in the 1967 war. Resolution 242 was later reaffirmed and made binding by the UN Security Council Resolution 338 after the 1973 Ramadan War (the Israelis refer to it as the Yom Kippur War).
The nonimplementation of these resolutions has been repeatedly mentioned in the world media as being the main source of conflict in the region. "It (the nonimplementation) speaks volumes about Israeli contempt for the international community. Both Israel and the US keep harping about Resolution 1559 while conveniently forgetting 242 and 338," Al-Watan Arabic daily pointed out in a recent editorial. Other newspapers in the region have often argued along the same lines.
In his column this week, Khaled Almaeena, the editor in chief of Arab News, reiterated that Israeli occupation and the nonimplementation of UN Resolutions 242 and 338 were the real problems. "To have peace, the world should see that the real problem is the occupation and the nonimplementation of UN Resolutions 242 and 338, both of which are gathering dust. The only way real peace will come is when the UN seriously implements these programs," he wrote.
At a press conference on Friday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is currently visiting the region, repeatedly talked about Resolution 1559. Many in the region were incensed by her repeated references to 1559. "I read the transcript of Rice's press conference on The Washington Post website. She mentioned 1559 more than 10 times. Go read it for yourself. From her talk it seemed nonimplementation of 1559 was the only cause of all problems. Who are they kidding? Why don't they (the US and Israel) mention 242 and 338? Israeli occupation is the problem," wrote Muhammad A. Al-Dukhail on a popular Arabic website. "Rice blamed Hezbollah for 'violating every conceivable international norm - not to mention a number of international UN Security Council resolutions' but she didn't refer to the misdeeds of rogue ally Israel nor did she condemn Israeli barbarity ... Two weeks into the one-sided war, we still see Israeli jets pounding Lebanon," Al-Dukhail wrote in his post in Arabic.
The general view on the Arab street is that the West and Israel only refer to the UN resolutions when it suits their purposes. "Israel is flouting dozens of UN resolutions in relation to illegal occupation of land and holding nuclear arms but no one really says anything. On the other hand, countries like Iraq are sucked dry and bombed and then reduced to ashes," said a letter writer in a Cairo-based English magazine.
The OIC secretary-general said a comprehensive approach was required in order "to root out the causes of tension provoked by Israeli occupation of Arab territories and which has brought the Middle East to a boiling point, making it one of the world's most volatile areas and also a fertile ground for extremists to carry out acts of violence."
Ihsanoglu reiterated his strong condemnation and denunciation of the Israeli operations against Lebanon. "They have defied all norms and flouted all international laws and conventions. What they are doing amounts to war crimes that target innocent civilians, killing hundreds of people and completely destroying the basic infrastructure of both the Lebanese and Palestinian states," he said.
The OIC secretary-general emphasized that the first priority was to ensure the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon. "It is absolutely imperative to secure an immediate cease-fire followed by an exchange of prisoners and a process of disengagement through an international force supervised by the United Nations," he said.
The OIC statement was, however, met with skepticism. "His (the secretary-general's) statement has come two weeks too late," said Khadija A. Al-Baghdadi, a Jeddah-based Saudi artist. "At times like these, we should forget the UN and all the rest of the dilly-dalliers. The Arab and Muslim world needs to do something," she said.
Anwar Al-Jilani, a Saudi teacher, said: "A united front is what is needed. The West is not bothered when Muslim and Arab blood is spilled. UN resolutions or no resolutions, Muslim blood is cheap - Israeli and Western lives are precious. What is the Muslim and Arab world doing about this?" he asked in exasperation.