May 25, 2009
The OIC secretary general spoke on Saturday about the “suffering” of the people of Gaza, saying Israel had committed “flagrant war crimes.”
Ihsanoglu also said the world should act to force Israel to end its occupation of Arab land, AFP reported.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also criticized Israel, branding it the “major obstacle” to peace in the Middle East and backing the right of resistance to recover the occupied lands.
Bashar al-Assad said the current state of Middle East peacemaking had exposed the “true nature of this aggressive state.”
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and indirect contacts between Israel and Syria have been on ice since Israel's massive offensive against the Gaza Strip in December and January.
“The failure of the peace process is a blatant demonstration that Israel is the major obstacle to peace,” Assad said in an address to a ministerial meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Damascus.
“Our experience with Israel during indirect peace negotiations mediated by Turkey is further proof of this.”
Turkey brokered four rounds of indirect talks between the two foes last year, the first such contacts since previous peace negotiations were broken off in 2000 over the fate of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
But Syria froze the contacts at the turn of the year when Israel launched its 22-day war on Gaza, controlled since June 2007 by the Islamic resistance movement Hamas whose leader Khaled Meshaal lives in Damascus.
“The failure of political methods to recover their legitimate rights gives them the right of resistance,” he said, referring to Syrians and Palestinians whose land is occupied by Israel.
Israel occupied the Golan Heights in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed the strategic plateau in 1981, moves not recognized by the international community.
“For decades, Israel was considered a gentle lamb seeking peace in the face of besieging wolves, including the Palestinians, the rightful owners of the land,” Assad said.
“A state built on occupation and the massacre of Palestinians, can it really work for peace?” he asked.
“A state whose successive governments have prevented all solutions and whose current government is one of the most racist, can it be a partner for peace?”
Assad said peace remained Syria's “strategic objective to restore our rights fully, including occupied land,” but underscored what he said was the “large popular support for the forces of resistance in the region.”