"Praise be to God
May Peace and blessings be upon the Prophet, His Kith and Kin
Your Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority,
Your Excellency Mr. Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation,
First of all, I should like to welcome you to your second home, Morocco, and to the Twentieth Session of the Al-Quds Committee.
This session is being held at a time when solidarity for the Palestinian cause is declining, be it in terms of political and material support, or media coverage.
Nevertheless, the convening of this meeting clearly attests to our common desire to continue defending not only the legitimate rights of our Palestinian brothers, but also the Arab and Islamic character of the city of Al-Quds al-Sharif.
This meeting gives us a chance to consult and coordinate with one another in order to come up with innovative measures to confront the aggressive policies endured by the steadfast Palestinian people, as well as the settlement policies and the violations perpetrated against Al-Quds al-Sharif and the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque.
I see this meeting as an ideal opportunity to develop common stances which can effectively contribute to the peace process.
Since the last Committee meeting, we have not been sitting idly by. Indeed, the cause of Al-Quds is a sacred trust for all of us. As far as I am concerned, it is just as important as Morocco’s first national cause; it has always been one of the fundamental determinants of my country’s foreign policy.
In the Al-Quds Committee, we do not perceive the defence of the occupied city as a transient matter, nor is this defence limited to convening Committee meetings. On the contrary, the Committee’s action includes effective diplomatic initiatives as well as tangible fieldwork in the holy city, carried out by the Bayt Mal Al-Quds al-Sharif Agency, which is affiliated with the Al-Quds Committee.
We cannot defend the holy city against Judaization schemes nor support its steadfast inhabitants through empty slogans or the exploitation of this lofty cause for pointless outbidding purposes.
Indeed, this is a crucially important matter. Confidence, credibility and effective action are needed to defend sacred Islamic values.
Practical, well-thought-out proposals and realistic initiatives, with precise implementation means and funding mechanisms, are also required. The Palestinian cause - including that of Al-Quds al-Sharif - is the cause of the entire Muslim Ummah.
The chairmanship of the Al-Quds Committee is not a favor, nor is it a privilege but, rather, a crucial sacred trust and a tremendous responsibility before God and history.
For this reason, and in consultation with our brothers and partners, I have devoted myself to defending the Arab-Islamic character of the city of Al-Quds, the cradle of the revealed religions and the symbol of peace and intercultural coexistence.
I have also pursued efforts and diplomatic action in different forums and on various occasions to urge the international community to fully shoulder its responsibility with respect to the ordeal of our Palestinian brothers.
Recently, I wrote to His Holiness the Pope and to the Secretary-General of the United Nations Organization regarding the Holy See’s intention to sign an agreement with Israel on the legal status of the Catholic Church’s property in the occupied city of Al-Quds.
I stressed that the signing of such an agreement would not only confer legitimacy on the practices of the occupation authorities, but would also be a violation of international resolutions which prohibit any alteration of the legal status of Al-Quds.
Similarly, I shall spare no effort to urge UNESCO to take a stand against Israel’s violation of international agreements on the protection of the cultural heritage, and to safeguard the historic monuments and the religious and cultural sites in Al-Quds which are listed as world heritage in danger.
Although it is important, diplomatic action alone is not enough to change facts on the ground. For this reason, I have sought to shore up the Al-Quds Committee’s efforts by strengthening the fieldwork carried out by the Bayt Mal Al-Quds al-Sharif Agency, whose action has had a direct, tangible impact in terms of improving the living conditions of the inhabitants of Al-Quds.
Under my supervision, the Agency has implemented several projects aimed at promoting human resource development in Al-Quds, meeting the conditions needed for a dignified life and supporting the inhabitants of Al-Quds in their steadfast resistance to the vexations and hardships designed to force them to leave their land and property in the holy city.
Reflecting our sincere solidarity in this regard, and in cooperation with government institutions in Islamic countries and NGOs supporting Al-Quds, the Agency has been working untiringly to promote education and training, namely through the conservation of educational institutions and the purchase of buildings which are then converted into schools, and also by encouraging child enrollment in schools.
Moreover, the Agency has been promoting sustainable income-generating economic activities and job creation, in addition to the rehabilitation and fitting-out of health facilities, the implementation of housing programs and the provision of socio-cultural facilities, especially for young people.
A special reference should be made, in this respect, to the restoration of the Moroccan Cultural Center, located in heart of the holy city, an undertaking which was funded in full by Morocco.
As regards the preservation of the cultural and religious heritage of Al Quds, the Agency is making every effort to ensure the conservation of the holy Al Aqsa Mosque and the other sacred sites and cultural landmarks.
It also seeks to oppose the closure of essential Palestinian institutions and the confiscation of Palestinian land and property in the occupied city.
Consistent with the same solidarity-based approach, the Agency has developed a five-year plan for the 2014-2018 period.
To ensure this plan’s success, the Bayt Mal Al-Quds al-Sharif Agency has carried out a thorough study of the various projects it intends to implement, with specific implementation timeframes and funding mechanisms.
However, my ambition is far greater than the resources available to the Agency, which are limited due to the inadequate contributions to its budget.
I therefore call for a strong mobilization of our means and resources to defend the holy city, since this is the cause of the entire Muslim Ummah.
Alongside the Agency’s action and in coordination with the Palestinian National Authority, I ordered the setting up of a multidisciplinary field hospital in the Gaza strip to provide medical assistance to our Palestinian brothers, show our unceasing solidarity with them and help alleviate their suffering.
Our meeting is taking place at a time when there is international consensus on the need to show greater support for the peace process.
In this regard, I would like to commend the untiring efforts exerted by the US Administration under the stewardship of President Barack Obama and the supervision of Secretary of State John Kerry. These efforts have given fresh, constructive momentum to the peace process.
The success of this dynamic, however, hinges on the adoption of a comprehensive approach in which all final settlement issues are addressed on the basis of a clear frame of reference and within a specific timeline.
I also wish to call for trust to be enhanced between the parties concerned. Needless to say, any provocative measures which might derail the peace process should be avoided, and the parties should commit to a realistic, consensual spirit in order to make sure the negotiations are successful.
We have to remain vigilant and to join efforts in order to foil the schemes of extremist, obscurantist groups which seek to exploit the lofty cause of Al Quds so as to fan the flames of violence and terrorism in the region.
To deal with the situation, we must consolidate Arab and Islamic joint action, close ranks and adopt innovative measures to effectively contribute to substantiating the desire for peace.
I therefore call for a pragmatic, efficient strategy, in which the Al Quds Committee would play a crucial role as a permanent mechanism of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
In this regard, it should be stressed that Al Quds is the core issue of the Palestinian cause, and that no peace is conceivable without an agreement on the final status of East Al-Quds as the capital of the independent Palestinian State.
For peace to be achieved, Israel must fulfil its obligations, especially with respect to the Road Map adopted by the International Quartet and endorsed by the Security Council, as well as the prospects opened up by the Arab Peace Initiative.
Although we are satisfied with the United Nations’ decision to grant Palestine non-member observer State status, we wish to call for the implementation of all UN resolutions relating to Al Quds and to the Palestinian cause in general.
The crucial element for a stronger Palestinian position remains the achievement of sincere national Palestinian reconciliation based on the unity of Palestinian ranks under the legitimate National Authority led by my brother Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen, to whom I should like to reiterate my support for the efforts he is making to serve our Palestinian brothers.
This constructive reconciliation should put the best interests of the Palestinian people above all other considerations, contributing, in particular, to the creation of the independent Palestinian State on Palestinian liberated territory, with East Al Quds as its capital, living in security, peace and concord with Israel.
Let me reiterate that the occupied city of Al Quds will continue to top the list of my foremost concerns, just as it will remain in the hearts and souls of all Muslim peoples. I therefore pray that Almighty God help us to uphold our Ummah’s just causes and safeguard its sacred values.
Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh."