* Historic Meeting Comes Days after Secretary Kerry Visit with Israeli and Palestinian Leadership *
Washington, DC (January 16, 2014) — On Friday and Saturday, January 17-18, in Marrakesh, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI will chair the twentieth session of the al-Quds (Jerusalem) Committee of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)—the first time in more than ten years the committee has met—in an effort to contribute to the renewed negotiations and build on US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to revive the Middle East peace process.
Established in 1975 by the OIC and originally chaired by King Mohammed VI’s father, King Hassan II, the Committee seeks a political solution to the issue of Jerusalem‘s status, in order to further the peace process to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This year, international, non-Islamic observers, including representatives from the Vatican, the European Union, United Nations Security Council member states, and President Obama’s special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference will join the 16 Islamic member nations.
“Morocco’s long history of leadership on this issue, its strong record of religious tolerance, and King Mohammed VI’s unwavering commitment to peace in the region positions it to make a meaningful contribution to the peace process Secretary Kerry has been working so diligently on,” said Edward M. Gabriel, former US Ambassador to Morocco.
Morocco has long shown an interest in Jerusalem and the well-being of its residents, funding up to 80% of the OIC’s philanthropic projects in the Holy City, including the building of schools and hospitals and the maintenance of holy sites. Moreover, the country has played an active role in advancing the Middle East peace process for decades. From 1994-1999, the late King Hassan II worked with Israel’s then-Foreign Minister David Levy (who is of Moroccan origin) to bring the parties together; and following the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords, King Hassan was publicly honored by Israeli Minister of Defense Yitzhak Rabin for Morocco’s efforts to further the negotiations. Since then, Morocco has served as an arbiter between the parties, regularly hosting both Palestinian and Israel officials.
Most recently, in a Joint Statement released following the meeting between King Mohammed VI and President Obama at the White House on November 22, “His Majesty commended the continuous commitment of the President and the efforts of the Secretary of State to advance Middle East peace. The President acknowledged the contribution of His Majesty, Chairman of the Al Quds committee, to the efforts aiming to achieve a two state solution.”
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