* Speech to al-Quds Committee warns against using Jerusalem to fan violence, terrorism *
Washington, DC (January 17, 2014) — In a speech opening the 20th session of the al-Quds (Jerusalem) Committee of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), held today in Marrakesh, King Mohammed VI praised President Barack Obama’s and Secretary of State John Kerry’s initiative to revive the Middle East peace process, and reaffirmed Morocco’s support for a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict.
“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,” said King Mohammed VI. “These efforts have given fresh, constructive momentum to the peace process.” Today’s meeting in Marrakesh, he said, was “an ideal opportunity to develop common stances which can effectively contribute to the peace process.”
The King underscored his support for an “independent Palestinian State” that would live “in security, peace and concord with Israel.” In this vein, he also urged fellow Arab states “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 [Jerusalem] so as to fan the flames of violence and terrorism in the region.”
His words echoed those in a Joint Statement released following the November 22 meeting between the King and President Obama at the White House, in which the Moroccan sovereign “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.”
The al-Quds Committee was established in 1975 by the OIC under the chairmanship of Morocco’s King Hassan II, with a mission of seeking a political solution to the issue of Jerusalem‘s status in order to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Morocco has played an active role in advancing the Middle East peace process for decades, often alongside American diplomatic efforts. 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.
Morocco has long shown an interest in Jerusalem and the well-being of its residents, funding up to 80% of OIC’s philanthropic projects in the Holy City, including building schools and hospitals and maintaining holy sites. In his speech this morning, the King announced that the al-Quds Committee’s philanthropic arm—the Bayt Mal al-Quds al-Sharif Agency—has developed a five-year plan for 2014-2018 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.”
The King said that “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.”
The Committee will hold its closing session tomorrow.
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