The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Monday said there will be no normalization of ties with Israel until the country ends its occupation of Arab and Palestinian lands.

Yousef Al-Othaimeen, the OIC secretary-general, said in a statement: “Establishing normal relations between the member states of the organization and the Israeli occupation state will not be achieved until the end of the Israeli occupation of the Arab and Palestinian lands occupied since 1967, including al-Quds [Jerusalem].”

Al-Othaimeen stressed that the Palestinian cause is a core issue for the OIC.

The 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, he said, “constitutes a strategic choice, a historic opportunity, and a common reference on which a peaceful, just and comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict must be based.”

The initiative, passed at a 2002 Arab summit in Beirut, proposes the establishment of normal relations between Arab countries and Israel in exchange for the latter’s withdrawal from all Arab lands occupied since 1967, a just solution to the refugee issue, and the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

But successive Israeli governments rejected the initiative and called for fundamental changes to it.

Earlier this month, the UAE and Israel announced a US-brokered agreement to normalize their relations, including opening embassies in each other’s territory.

The UAE will be the third Arab country to sign a peace agreement with Israel following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

Palestinian groups have denounced the UAE-Israel deal, saying it does not serve the Palestinian cause and ignores the rights of Palestinians.

*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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