Islamic body calls for East Jerusalem to be recognised as Palestinian capital
It comes after US President Donald Trump declared recognition for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
Leaders from the world’s main Pan-Islamic body on Wednesday urged the international community to recognise East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital after US President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.
The emergency summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul said it declared “East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine” and invited “all countries to recognise the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital”, according to the final statement.
They declared Trump’s decision “null and void legally” and “a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts” that would give impetus to “extremism and terrorism”.
The statement said the OIC summit regarded Trump’s move “as an announcement of the US administration’s withdrawal from its role as sponsor of peace” in the Middle East.
It added that Washington’s decision amounted to “encouragement of Israel … to continue its policy of colonialism, settlement, apartheid and ethnic cleansing”.
The OIC groups together 57 member states. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan convened the meeting, seeking a coordinated response to Trump’s announcement last week.
Regarding himself a champion of the Palestinian cause, Erdogan denounced Israel as a state defined by “occupation” and “terror”, in a new diatribe against the Israeli leadership.
“With this decision, Israel was rewarded for all the terrorist activities it has carried out. It is Trump who bestowed this award even,” he said.
“I am inviting the countries who value international law and fairness to recognise occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine,” he said, adding that Islamic countries would “never give up” on this demand.
In an angry address, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said the United States had lost its role as the mediator in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, denouncing Washington as biased in favour of the Jewish state.
“Jerusalem is and will forever be the capital of the Palestinian state … There will be no peace, no stability without that,” Abbas said.
He slammed the recognition by Trump as a “gift” to the “Zionist movement” as if he “were giving away an American city”.
“We do not accept any role of the United States in the political process from now on. Because it is completely biased towards Israel,” he said.
Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu indicated that Ankara would be pushing for OIC states to recognise East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Arab countries had so far condemned Israel without announcing any concrete measures.
Aaron Stein, resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Centre for the Middle East, said ahead of the declaration that he believed Muslim leaders would merely “issue a boiler-plate condemnation”.
Iranian President Hassan Rowhani, Jordanian King Abdullah II, Lebanese President Michel Aoun, the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait, and presidents of Afghanistan and Indonesia all attended the OIC summit.
Meanwhile, Saudi representation was only at the level of a senior foreign ministry official.
However, in a rare public rebuke of Washington, Saudi Arabia condemned Trump’s decision, with OIC Secretary General Yousef bin Ahmad al-Othaimeen joining the call for countries to recognise Palestine as an independent state.
Saudi King Salman in Riyadh echoed the calls, saying it was the “right” of the Palestinians to establish “their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital”.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and war crimes, was also there and warmly greeted by Erdogan. A surprise guest was Venezuela’s leftist President Nicolas Maduro, whose country has no significant Muslim population but is a bitter critic of US policy.
Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the most sensitive issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel sees the entire city as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector, which the international community regards as annexed by Israel as the capital of their future state.
Trump’s announcement last week prompted an outpouring of anger in the Muslim and Arab world, where tens of thousands of people took to the streets to denounce the Jewish state and show solidarity with the Palestinians.
The decision sparked protests in Palestinian territories, with four Palestinians killed so far in clashes or Israeli air strikes in response to rocket fire from Gaza and hundreds wounded.
Additional reporting by Reuters and Associated Press