Failure Of Organization Of Islamic Cooperation In Resolving Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – OpEd


The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), established in 1969 to promote solidarity among Muslim-majority countries and safeguard their collective interests, has faced persistent criticism for its ineffectiveness in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Various reasons are there behind the OIC’s failure to mediate and resolve this protracted conflict.  The political, economic, and structural factors reveal the challenges faced by the OIC and highlight potential pathways for improving its effectiveness and issues hindering the OIC’s ability to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict effectively.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains one of the most enduring and contentious issues in international relations. Despite numerous efforts by various international organizations to mediate peace, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has notably struggled to make a significant impact. Established with the primary aim of fostering Muslim solidarity and addressing issues affecting the Muslim world, the OIC’s limited success in this domain raises critical questions about its role, capabilities, and internal dynamics. The organization’s internal divisions, lack of cohesive strategy, and varying political agendas among member states further complicate its ability to address the conflict. Additionally, the OIC’s limited financial resources and dependency on more influential member states hinder its capacity to act decisively. 

The OIC was founded in response to the 1969 arson attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, underscoring its commitment to the Palestinian cause. Over the decades, the organization has issued numerous statements, resolutions, and calls for action concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, these efforts have largely remained symbolic and have failed to translate into tangible outcomes and the issues is crucial for assessing the OIC’s future role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its broader mandate.

The OIC’s 57 member states encompass a wide range of political systems, economic conditions, and strategic interests. This diversity often leads to conflicting priorities and an inability to forge a unified stance on the Palestinian issue. Regional rivalries, notably between Saudi Arabia and Iran, worsen these divisions, overshadowing collective efforts and hindering the organization’s effectiveness in addressing the conflict. Unlike organizations such as the United Nations or NATO, the OIC lacks mechanisms to enforce its resolutions or exert significant pressure on Israel or influential international actors. The absence of a collective military capability or an economic sanctions regime undermines its ability to effect meaningful change in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a result, its influence remains limited primarily to diplomatic channels and symbolic gestures.

Many OIC member states grapple with internal conflicts, political instability, and economic challenges. These domestic issues often take precedence over international diplomatic initiatives, diverting attention and resources from the Palestinian cause. Civil wars, insurgencies, and economic crises within member countries limit their capacity to engage effectively in sustained international advocacy efforts for the Palestinian cause. This internal turmoil further weakens the OIC’s collective ability to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict comprehensively. The OIC’s actions often take the form of symbolic gestures, including condemnations, summit declarations, and resolutions, which do not lead to concrete follow-up measures. While these actions help maintain international awareness, they generally fail to result in practical steps that could alter the situation on the ground. The absence of robust implementation strategies for resolutions further diminishes their impact and effectiveness in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The geopolitical influence of major powers, particularly the United States and the European Union, often overshadows the OIC’s efforts. Many OIC member states maintain close ties with these powers, which can constrain their willingness to take strong actions against Israel or challenge Western policies in the region. These strategic alliances and economic dependencies on Western countries significantly limit the OIC’s manoeuvrability and its ability to assert independent diplomatic initiatives regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The economic dependencies of OIC member states on Western nations complicate the organization’s ability to adopt strong, unified actions. Countries heavily reliant on trade, investment, and military aid from the West may be reluctant to support measures that could jeopardize these relationships. As a result, economic vulnerabilities inhibit collective decision-making within the OIC, limiting its capacity to take decisive steps on issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The OIC’s diplomatic influence is relatively limited compared to other international organizations. While it can mobilize support and solidarity among Muslim-majority countries, this influence does not extend significantly to non-member states, especially those with substantial geopolitical power. As a result, its diplomatic efforts often lack the necessary backing to influence policy changes in key international forums regarding issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Commitment levels to the Palestinian cause vary significantly among OIC member states, leading to inconsistent and fragmented efforts. Some prioritize the issue more than others, which undermines collective action within the organization. The normalization agreements between some OIC member states and Israel, such as the Abraham Accords, exemplify these inconsistencies and further complicate unified efforts to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The OIC’s failure to effectively address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be attributed to a complex interplay of internal divisions, lack of enforcement mechanisms, external geopolitical influences, and economic dependencies. Internal divisions, exacerbated by varying levels of commitment among member states and regional rivalries, have hindered cohesive action. Additionally, the organization’s diplomatic efforts often lack the necessary leverage to influence key international forums and policy decisions.

The OIC must address these structural and strategic challenges. Strengthening internal cohesion through consensus-building and promoting a unified stance on the Palestinian cause is crucial. Developing concrete, actionable strategies that go beyond symbolic gestures to include diplomatic, economic, and potentially legal measures is essential. Geopolitical shifts, such as the normalization agreements between some OIC member states and Israel, underscore the urgency of fostering greater unity within the organization. Building alliances with other international organizations, particularly those sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, can strengthen the OIC’s diplomatic influence and advocacy efforts. Moreover, leveraging economic tools and strategic partnerships with influential global actors outside the organization, including the United Nations and the European Union, could amplify its impact. By doing so, the OIC can potentially play a more decisive role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and advancing peace and stability in the region.

Syed Ahmed Ali Shah

Syed Ahmed Ali Shah is pursuing MS in International Relations at Muslim Youth University, Islamabad. His research focuses on the strategic relations between Pakistan, China, India, and the USA in the 21st century; He also has his interest in South Asian Studies, Extremism and terrorism, foreign policy of great powers, Jammu Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan studies. He writes in World Geostrategic Insights, Modern Diplomacy, Parliament Times, Daily Country News, and NewsMart.

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