Al Quds Al Sharif & Palestine
The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has been exerting every effort for the protection of Islamic sanctities in Al-Quds Al-Sharif and the safeguard of its Arab and Muslim cultural identity. For this purpose, ISESCO established Al-Quds Unit within the framework of the External Relations and Cooperation Directorate.
The missions falling within the ambit of Al-Quds Unit consist in the following: establishing contact with organizations and institutions concerned with the issue of Al-Quds Al-Sharif in order to take stock of relevant programmes as well as consult with them regarding coordination and cooperation, to make proposals on means to procure necessary funding resources for the execution of the programmes devoted to Al-Quds, to coordinate and follow up the implementation of the programmes dedicated to the protection of cultural assets in Al-Quds, to draw up the Reports submitted by the Director General to the Executive Council and the General Conference on the activities carried out by the Unit, and to undertake any task entrusted to it by the Director General in connection with Al-Quds.
The Organization has also established Al-Quds Al-Sharif Fund and opened a bank account dedicated to financing activities for the protection of Al-Quds cultural assets. ISESCO carries on contact with relevant institutions and influential personalities to facilitate fund-raising efforts.
In compliance with the recommendation made by OIC Islamic Committee for Economic, Cultural and Social Affairs at its 20th Session whereby ISESCO was entrusted to dispatch a specialised delegation to the territories of the Palestinian National Authority in order to assess the educational situation and identify the needs of educational institutions in Palestine; ISESCO former Deputy Director General Mr Omar Saad Touré, who headed the delegation, paid a visit to the Palestinian Authority territories on 20-26 November 1996. During this visit, the delegation made an assessment of the situation of educational institutions in Palestine and reported its findings to the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers at its 24th session (Jakarta, December 1996). The report was published in three editions (Arabic, English and French) bearing the title of "ISESCO in Palestine: Report on the educational situation in the territories of the Palestinian National Authority".
In response to an official invitation from Palestinian President Mr Yasser Arafat, ISESCO Director General paid a visit to the Palestinian territories on 15-18 March 1999. He visited the city of Al-Quds and met with Mr Faisal Husseini, head of the Orient House, and together they went on a tour of some of the cultural institutions and Islamic landmarks. ISESCO Director General also visited Al-Quds Open University and Birzeit University and met with officials in both institutions. He also toured educational, scientific and cultural institutions in Nablus and Ramallah.
ISESCO contributed to the celebration ceremony of Al-Quds as the Capital of Arab Culture for 2009, by providing support to educational, scientific, cultural and social institutions in the sacred city.
Up to May 2012, ISESCO implemented hundreds of activities for educational, scientific cultural, media and social institutions in Al-Quds Al-Sharif, since Al- Quds Unit was first established at ISESCO. These activities, carred out in collaboration with Palestine's National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, feature:
ISESCO also convened and co-organized several international conferences and symposia, in addition to regional meetings, in a bid to help protect Islamic and Christian shrines in Al-Quds Al-Sharif. These include :
At invitation from President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine, Dr Altwaijri had decided to visit Ramallah at the end of December 2012, at the head of a delegation from ISESCO, to assess needs and achievements of educational, scientific and cultural institutions in Palestine. ISESCO today in a communiqué faulted Israeli decision denying delegation entry to Palestine as a flagrant breach of international rules, underlying that Palestine, both as a member State of ISESCO and UNESCO, and as a non-member observer State of the United Nations, has the full right to receive visiting delegations from the Muslim world and beyond, including personalities with outstanding services to the Palestinian people. In the same vein, the Palestinian National Commission for Education, Culture and Science has denounced the Israeli act as unethical. In a statement on that occasion, the Commission said: “The interdiction of ISESCO’s delegation headed by Arab and Muslim scholar Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, representing the countries of the Muslim world, will only strengthen our determination to continue standing steadfast against Israeli occupation policies and its ongoing aggression on educational and cultural institutions in Al-Quds.” “Together with ISESCO, we will continue to lay bare Israel’s mischievous plots to judaize Al-Quds and obliterate its Islamic and Arab identity,” the Commission further stressed. ISESCO also pledged persistent support to educational and cultural institutions across Palestine, insisting that Israel’s denial of entry into Palatine to ISESCO’s delegation will only heighten the Organization’s resolve to maintain its support to the State of Palestine.
Mrs Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), denounced Israel's denial of entry into Palestine to Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), who was to head a delegation from ISESCO as part of an official visit. In a letter sent to ISESCO Director General, UNESCO Director General deplored Israeli decision to prevent this visit aimed at promoting peace and stepping up the educational efforts deployed by the competent authorities in the State of Palestine. Mrs Bokova also stressed that she will bring this regrettable incident to the attention of the Israeli Permanent Delegation to UNESCO. For the record, ISESCO Director General had intended to make a visit at the end of this month of December to Palestine in response to the invitation of President Mahmoud Abbas to assess the needs of educational, scientific and cultural institutions in Palestine. On 13 December 2012, ISESCO released a communiqué wherein it faulted the Israeli decision as a flagrant breach of international rules, underlying that Palestine, both as a Member State of ISESCO and UNESCO, and as a non-member observer State of the United Nations, has the full right to receive visiting delegations from the Muslim world and beyond, including personalities offering educational, scientific and cultural services to the Palestinian people.
A set of ISESCO’s publications on Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif