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The Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in their emergency meeting on Sunday condemned what they described as “barbaric” Israeli attacks on Palestinians and urged the UN Security Council to act swiftly to bring an end to the atrocities.

The top diplomats from the 57-member bloc of Muslim countries held a virtual session against the backdrop of the ongoing Israeli military operation against Palestinians.

The participants of the meeting reviewed the latest developments in the occupied Palestinian territories, the escalating aggression by the occupying Israeli forces, the forced eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem, the killing and maiming of civilians and the growing barbaric attacks on the Gaza Strip.

The meeting was convened by Saudi Arabia, the headquarters of the OIC.

There has been criticism that the international community, including the Muslim world, has been slow to respond to the Israeli atrocities against Palestinians.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi represented Pakistan at the virtual session.

He stressed upon the member states that the OIC must not fail the people of Palestine at this critical juncture.

The joint statement issued by the OIC after the foreign ministers’ virtual meeting held Israel responsible for the deteriorating situation.

They warned against the "dangerous effects of Israel’s continued and deliberate inflammation and provocation of the religious sensibilities and feelings of the Palestinian people and the entire Muslim ummah with its heightened attacks on worshippers”.

The statement especially mentioned Israeli attacks starting from blocking worshippers’ access to the holy sites to perform their religious rites, including Muslims from Al-Aqsa mosque during Ramazan and Christians from the Church of Holy Sepulchre during Easter celebrations, and the violent storming of Al-Aqsa mosque by the occupying forces, terrorising and attacking peaceful worshippers in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.

"Israel, the occupying authority, [is] fully responsible for the deterioration of the situation caused by its systematic crimes against the Palestinian people across the entire Occupied Palestinian Territory, in particular the extensive barbaric military attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip," the statement read.

The joint communique underscored the responsibility of the UNSC to act swiftly to end the Israeli forces' barbaric attacks on the Palestinian people in line with its charter mandate to preserve international peace and security.

The OIC foreign ministers also denounced the UNSC's inertia in dealing with the Palestinian question, the oldest on its agenda.

They invited the UNSC to “assume its responsibility towards the Palestinian people and to respond to the calls of states and peoples around the world to rise to its responsibilities to stop these violations, save innocent lives, act without delay to stop the deterioration on the ground and the ongoing Israeli aggression on the Palestinian people, implement its own resolutions and ensure that they are fully respected, being the foundation and key to a just and lasting solution supported by the prevailing international consensus”.

"[The OIC] reiterates that the failure of the [UN] Security Council to assume its responsibility to deal with this crisis will necessitate approaching the United Nations General Assembly to assume its responsibility, including resumption of the proceedings of the Tenth Emergency Special Session to stop Israeli aggression in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Al-Quds Al-Shareef, to ensure provision of international protection for the Palestinian people, to take measures to hold Israel, the occupying power, accountable for its crimes and gross violations of the rules of international law and human rights, and to blockade its colonial system," the statement read.

The document made it clear that Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s first qibla and the third holiest sanctuary, was a “red line” for the Muslim ummah, that would end only with its full liberation from occupation and its return to the Palestinian people.

It invited member states to make concerted and individual efforts, to rally round and defend Al-Quds and its holy sites, face up to Israel’s crimes, provide the Palestinian people with support and the wherewithal for steadfastness to confront the Israeli barbaric attacks.

It also requested them to respect the OIC resolutions on the Palestinian cause and work to implement them as the central issue of the Muslim ummah and the raison d’etre of the Islamic bloc.

The OIC also stressed that Israel must be held accountable for the crimes against Palestinians.

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