DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation opened an emergency meeting Sunday over the heavy fighting between Israel and the Gaza Strip’s militant Hamas rulers, the first major move among Mideast nations still grappling with how to address the conflict.
While the Arab League and organizations like the Saudi-based OIC have maintained their view that the Palestinians should have their own independent state, Israel recently has reached recognition deals with several of its members. That, as well as the concerns of some nations over Hamas, has seen a somewhat-muted response to the attacks as opposed to the full-throated response of decades past.
“The plight of the Palestinian people is the bleeding wound of the Islamic world today,” Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar said.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki of the Palestinian Authority, which administers autonomous enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, decried what he called Israel’s “cowardly attacks” at the start of the meeting.
“We need to tell Allah that we will resist to the last day,” he said. “We are facing a long-term occupation. that’s the base of the problem. Crimes are committed against the Palestinians without consequences.”
However, Malki’s Palestinian Authority has no control over Hamas and the Gaza Strip, where the militants seized power in 2007.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu took a similarly hard line.
“Israel alone is responsible for the recent escalation in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza,” Cavusoglu said. “Our warnings to Israel last week went unheeded.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Israel of “genocide and crimes against humanity.”
“Make no mistake: Israel only understand the language of resistance and the people of Palestine are fully entitled to their right to defend themselves,” Zarif said.
Across the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf states, reactions to the fighting has been mixed. In Qatar, home to the Al-Jazeera satellite network, hundreds turned out late Saturday night to listen to a speech by Hamas’ top leader Ismail Haniyeh. He now splits his time between Turkey and Qatar, both of which back Hamas, as does Iran.