Memorandum of the Secretary General of the Muslim World League to the Chairman and Members of the US Congress on Al-Quds (Jerusalem)

Dr. Abdullah bin Saleh al-Obeid

Secretary General, The Muslim World League

Distinguished Chairman,

Members of Congress,

Kindly accept our best compliments.

In my capacity as the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, an international, non-governmental organization, based in the Holy City of Makkah al-Mukarramah with representation of Muslim organizations on its various councils, I would like to state that the Muslim World League has been monitoring the ongoing events, as well as the Israeli measures and operations in Al-Quds (Jerusalem) which are designed to transform the demographic and geographic aspects of the Holy City. Arab inhabitants are evicted from their districts to make way for new settlements designed to house Jewish settlers in violation of resolutions adopted by both the UN and the Security Council – the mouthpiece of the international community at large.

Moreover, this Secretariat has been monitoring international attitudes towards Al-Quds, including, of course, the attitude of the US Congress, which recently voted to:

Recognize Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the unified capital of Israel.

Move the US embassy to Al-Quds according to the demand made by Senator Bob Dole, by May 31, 1999.

Allocate one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000) for the construction of a US embassy in Al-Quds.

Curtail American aid to the Palestinian Authority, until it ends it opposition of the sale of Palestinian land to Jews.

Accordingly, by virtue of my responsibility as the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League – the mouthpiece of a quarter of the world’s population – I would like to call your attention to Muslim grievances and aspirations with regard to the city of Al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Distinguished Chairman,

Members of Congress,

Historical documents show that, since the dawn of history, Al-Quds (Jerusalem) has always been a highly regarded Arab city. It was inhabited by the Arab Canaanites and Yabusid tribes, and its mention in the Glorious Qur’an and the Hadith (traditions of the Prophet Muhammad), has earned it both a significant and cherished position in the hearts of all Muslims who regard it as a part of their history. They are deeply attached to it, and are prepared to defend it against any aggression. Both its religious history and sanctuaries are strongly connected with their basic tenets.

Although, it is true that over the years, Al-Quds (Jerusalem) has been exposed to outside invasion, it does not follow that its ownership has been transferred to the invaders. For example, in the twelfth century B.C., Al-Quds (Jerusalem) was invaded and colonized by the Hebrews for about seventy years, then came Persian invaders in 586 B.C., followed by Alexander the Great in 322 B.C., and the Romans in the year 70 A.D. But, its Arab inhabitants have always driven away the invaders and kept the city as a purely Arab city, and it remained like that until the Islamic conquest in the sixth century, in the year 23 A.H. when the Muslims named it "Baitul Maqdis" (The Blessed House).

Moreover, in the same manner as it was exposed to foreign occupation before the advent of Islam, Al-Quds was the object of invasion after the emergence of Islam. In the Medieval era, Crusaders coming from Europe entered the region, and after the Second World War, Palestine and its capital Al-Quds were placed under the British Mandate. Nevertheless, the colonial forces finally left, and Al-Quds remained both as an Arab and an Islamic city as ever, and maintained its distinguishing features.

With the exception of the Israelis who claim it to be a Hebrew city in total disregard of the historical fact that the city was first established by the Arab Canaanites at the beginning of the Bronze Age, no invading or occupying power ever dared to alter the features of the Holy City. Moreover, the fact that the Arabs, according to archaeological discoveries and history books, were in Palestine two thousand six hundred years before the Hebrew invasion, and the fact that the Hebrew rule of Al-Quds in the twelfth century B.C. did not exceed seventy consecutive years, and the fact that the Jewish presence in Palestine dwindled during the Roman and Byzantine rule when most Jews of Palestine embraced Christianity, go a long way toward disproving all claims that Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and Palestine belong to the Jews.  Subsequently, Islam became the religion of the majority of the people of Palestine...

Furthermore, a closer look at the history of the region will show that, over the centuries, Palestine, and Al-Quds, for that matter, have been the abode of the Palestinians, as well as a passage way and a coveted destination for various peoples, military expeditions and for the believers in Divine faiths, and the Palestinians, according to objective writers, have always provided those believers with an atmosphere of tolerance, freedom of worship, protection and hospitality.

In later years, when the Crusades began, Muslim values and sanctuaries were subjected to violations and transgressions at the hands of individuals, countries and groups, and the situation became stable once again only when Saladin retook the city and the rest of the holy places in Palestine.

Under the Islamic rule, the followers of the three Divine religions lived together in peace, and visitors for religious purposes as well as persons fleeing persecution were received by the Palestinians with open arms.

However, after the Second World War, when Jews of various nationalities began to converge on Palestine, and the subsequent establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 following the Balfour declaration of 1917, which offered the Jews a national homeland in Palestine, Al-Quds has been the object of continuous violations.

Since then, Israel has perpetrated all forms of aggression against this Arab country and its institutions, especially against the city of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) – the subject of this memorandum which has suffered serious violations. The Israeli authorities have drastically altered its Arab and Islamic features.

Most of its inhabitants were forcefully evicted to make way for Zionist settlers, while excavation works persisted and tunnels were dug under the foundations of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.

For a more clear idea about the transgression against the Great Mosque, and the malicious schemes drawn by the successive Israeli governments in this regard, it suffices to state that, in the wake of the 1967 War, when Israel occupied Al-Quds (Jerusalem), it immediately began to implement definite policies against the Al-Aqsa Mosque in utter disregard of Muslim feelings. First, large-scale excavation under the Holy Mosque was undertaken under the pretext of searching for Jewish antiquities, although the real motive was to weaken the foundations of the Holy Mosque and eventually ruin it.

Hence, in response to a question in this regard, former army Rabbi Goren pointed out that the building of a Jewish temple in place of the Holy Mosque would be possible in the event of its decay and demolition caused by natural elements.

However, when the excavations failed to achieve the desired goal as a result of the resistance by both the Muslim and international public opinion, the Holy Mosque was deliberately set on fire on August 21, 1969, by a person the Israelis claimed was a lunatic.

Nevertheless, attempts to change the characteristics of Al-Quds continued unabated.

Later on, in another bloody episode, a so-called Israeli lunatic indiscriminately opened fire on Muslims praying at the "Dome of the Rock" Mosque with the aim of terrifying and driving them away from performing their religious rites. This was followed by another episode during which another Israeli lunatic indiscriminately opened fire on Muslims at the Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, killing scores of Muslims who were engaged in prayers at the Mosque.

There are other examples of the continued Israeli aggression on Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as on the Arab and Islamic institutions in the Holy City of Al-Quds, as recorded in the complaints lodged with both the Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations, including recent attempts by the Netanyahu Government of digging a tunnel under the Holy Mosque, the establishment of new settlements in the eastern part of occupied Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and confiscation of the identity cards of its Palestinian inhabitants.

Now the question is, what is the futu4re of Al-Quds supposed to be? How do we get to this future? Al-Quds is suffering under the yoke of the Israeli occupation and violations, and the entire world has expressed consternation in various ways, especially through the resolutions of the Security Council.

For example, after considering the condition of Al-Quds and the other territories occupied in 1967 during numerous sessions, the Security Council adopted a number of resolutions barring Israel from tampering with Al-Quds (Jerusalem) or causing any changes in its geographical position, or treating it as its capital. In this regard, a special reference may be made to resolutions 242 and 338, which clearly consider Al-Quds as part of the occupied Arab territories, and resolution 252 of May 21, 1968, which says that all administrative or legislative measures, or any action which could alter the legal status of Al-Quds should be considered null and void and urged Israel to desist from such actions, and resolution 267 of July 3, 1969 which urged Israel to abide by the provision of resolution 252.

Moreover, in resolution 271 of September 15, 1969, the Security Council deeply deplored the damage caused by the outbreak of fire in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on August 21, 1969. The Council then reaffirmed its stand on resolutions 252 and 367 by insisting that any destruction or defilement of Islamic sanctuaries, or any encouragement or connivance at such action, poses a threat to international peace and security.

Also, in September 25, 1971, the Security Council adopted resolution 298 in which the Council reaffirmed its position with regard to previous resolutions, and made a special reference to resolutions 465 and 476, which considered all administrative and legislative measures taken by Israel with a view to altering the status of Al-Quds, null and void.

Resolution 478 of 1980 regarded the transfer of embassies and other diplomatic missions to Al-Quds an illegal act. This resolution, together with the other resolutions, regarded as null and void the law passed by Israel to declare Al-Quds its unified capital, and likewise, all measures designed to change the Holy City’s geographical and demographic status and violation of the sanctity of both the Islamic and Christian sanctuaries with the aim of replacing the Holy City’s original characteristics with a Jewish character.

Moreover, in resolution 1073 adopted on September 28, 1996, the Security Council expressed deep concern about the serious deterioration of conditions in Al-Quds and regarded Israel’s digging of a tunnel under the Holy Mosque as the direct cause of this state of affairs.

Hence, the international community, especially the United States of America, in its capacity as one of the advocates of a just and comprehensive peace in the region, is called upon to avoid dealing with the Israeli occupation authorities in a manner that may be construed as implicit recognition of the status quo imposed by Israel through its declaration of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of the Jewish state.

At this juncture, it may be recalled that the people of Palestine have – through their legitimate leadership and national authority – already declared their commitment to international legitimacy, as well as their determination to fulfil their obligations within the international community.

Likewise, through the resolutions adopted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference at both the summit and ministerial levels, the Muslim community – through the Muslim World League – has expressed its willingness to commit itself to international legitimacy.

Therefore, the international community, and in particular the United States of America, must in turn fulfill its obligations by pursuing a practical policy towards the Israeli occupation of Al-Quds and other Arab territories. Indeed the past years have proved beyond doubt that individual or collective declarations are not enough, and that merely passing resolution without adopting practical policies towards their implementation cannot restrain the Israeli aggressors from persistence in their violations.

It has become abundantly clear by the policies pursued by the Israeli occupation forces that the Jewish state is continuously in the habit of committing excesses, such as the continued setting up of settlements on the eastern parts of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), and the demolition of houses belonging to Palestinians. That is all the more why Israel is unwilling to take steps towards peace, and that is why it is all the more imperative on the super powers, especially the United States of America, to fulfill their obligation, by imposing a just and comprehensive peace and accordingly, by helping the Palestinian National Authority carry out its duties and fulfill its obligations in accordance with the concept of international legitimacy.

In fact, a just and comprehensive peace can only be achieved by finding the right solution to the problem of Al-Quds, in particular, and the problem of Palestine, in general, in a manner that will enable the people of Palestine to exercise their fundamental national rights, by returning to their homeland, enjoying the right of self-determination and establishing their independent state.

As a first step towards achieving this end, Israel must pull out of the occupied Arab territories, including Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and implement UN resolutions concerning Palestine.

Distinguished Chairman,

Members of the Congress,

Every community has its unique values, culture and symbols. Territory is one of the repositories of those values and symbols. The community’s value rises higher if the territory is directly connected with the community’s relations with God, i.e., when the territory represents a place of worship or a Divine message.

This is how sanctity and values are formed. The status of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) in the eyes of the Muslim emanates from both the sanctity and values it embodies. Al-Quds is the land that houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the point of beginning of the Prophet Muhammad’s nocturnal journey and subsequent ascension to the heavens, and the first direction in which a Muslim faced while making the five obligatory prayers commanded by the Almighty.

The relation between a Muslim and Al-Quds is therefore deeply rooted in religion. Moreover, from the time the rightly-guided Caliph, Omar bin al-Khattab, took it over, until the time Saladin retrieved it from the hands of outside invaders, Al-Quds became a shining example of the way Muslims are wont to treat others.

Thus, the relation between the Muslim and Al-Quds has a political as well as a cultural background. Throughout the ages, Muslims have upheld, and would continue to uphold the sanctuaries of Al-Quds.

Al-Quds is both a symbol of the sanctity of Divine religions, and a model of coexistence. All forms of disputes emerging in Al-Quds were referred to God’s judgment, which is the most equitable judgment.

We cherish the hope that all the distinguished members of the US Congress would be able to understand that Muslims demand nothing except justice, and cessation of aggression and injustice against man, environment and culture.

Distinguished Chairman,

Members of Congress,

In the light of the foregoing historical reality and Israel’s defiance of the will of the international community, as manifested by the prevailing situation in Al-Quds (Jerusalem), the Muslim World League would like to emphasize that the recent decision of the US Congress to consider Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the eternal capital of Israel, apart from begin a gross injustice, is detrimental to the credibility of the US attitude towards maintaining peace and security in the world. The decision not only entangles the government and the people of the United States of America in problems relating to international law and the historical rights of the Muslims inhabitants of the Holy City, but also stands at variance with the resolutions of the UN and the Security Council.

Hence, while placing this brief memorandum before the august house of the US Congress for consideration and subsequent adoption of positions compatible with historical facts, the Muslim World League cherishes the hope that, while doing so, the Congress would also take the strong relations binding the US with Muslims, as well as the various real interests of the American people into consideration. Indeed, it is not unbecoming of the US Congress to speak out the truth, even if, in doing so, it would have to retract its position and nullify its decision, which is seen by Muslims as one not taken by the US Congress, but either by the Israeli Knesset or the fanatic government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

In conclusion, the Muslim World League would like to convey its compliments to the august Congress – the elected representative House of the greatest country on earth.

Indeed, it is expected that the Congress would make all possible efforts to abide by the visions of international law that outlaws occupation of other people’s territory by force, so that the aggressor is not rewarded for committing acts of aggression.

Moreover, the Muslim World League would like to prevail upon the members of the US Congress, who belong to various religious and ideological persuasions, to stand up against the forces of violence and to persuade Israel to desist from the acts of demolishing Palestinian homes and evicting forcefully the Arab inhabitants of Al-Quds from their homes.

Peace must be restored to the Holy City and its Muslim, Christian and Jewish inhabitants. Peace and happiness would no doubt reign supreme everywhere in the world when international treaties, norms and laws are solemnly respected.

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