The 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has recognized East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine and invited other countries to follow suit. The organization’s decision, reached during an extraordinary summit in Istanbul on Dec. 13, counters the U.S.’s recognition of Jerusalem as the “undivided” capital of Israel.
“We declare East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine and invite all countries to recognize the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital,” read the final communiqué released after the OIC Summit in Istanbul, chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, the current OIC term president.
The 23-article Istanbul Declaration expressed full solidarity with Palestine and “rejected and condemned in the strongest terms the unilateral decision by the President of the United States America recognizing Al-Quds as the so-called capital of Israel.”
Trump’s move is an “attack on the historical, legal, natural and national rights of the Palestinian people, a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts, a move to extremism and terrorism, and a threat to international peace and security,” read the communiqué.
The Istanbul Summit brought kings and heads of states and governments from all member countries except Syria just a week after Trump ordered to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Qatar Emir al-Thani and Jordanian King Abdullah II were among the most prominent leaders present at the summit. Saudi Arabia was represented by the country’s Islamic affairs minister
In his opening remarks, Erdoğan slammed the U.S. decision and the Israeli government’s actions, saying “Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of Palestine.”
“I declare once again that Jerusalem is our red line. Haram-I Sherif with its 144 cares, which include al-Aqsa Mosque and Kubbet ul-Sahra, will forever belong to Muslims,” he said.
‘Evangelist and Zionist mentality’
Referring to Israel as a “terror and occupying state,” Erdoğan called on Trump to reverse his Jerusalem decision, vowing that Muslims would never give up on a sovereign State of Palestine with East Jerusalem its capital.
“I invite all countries supporting international law to recognize Jerusalem as the occupied capital of Palestine. We cannot be late anymore,” he said.
In his closing remarks, Erdoğan lashed out at Trump’s move describing the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as the product of an “Evangelist and Zionist mentality.”
‘End of U.S. role in Middle East peace process’
For his part, Palestinian President Abbas told Muslim leaders that Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was a criminal move that should “disqualify the U.S. from Middle East peace talks.”
“It is no longer acceptable for [the U.S.] to play a role in the political process given its bias in favor of Israel. This is our position and we hope you support us in this,” he said, calling for the establishment of a new international mechanism to hold future peace talks between Israel and Palestine based on a two-state solution.
Erdoğan echoed Abbas’ rejection of the U.S.’s role as an “honest” broker between Israel and Palestine. “This process has come to an end. Those who take sides cannot be impartial,” he said.
In his closing remarks, he said a meaningful response to the crisis was needed to counter Trump’s unilateral move.
Rare success for an Islamic meeting
In his closing remarks Abbas described the Istanbul Summit as a “rare success for an Islamic meeting” and praised Erdoğan’s role in organizing the emergency reunion of Islamic countries. “The Islamic world needed to mobilize and the first step taken to this end was a consequence of President Erdoğan’s immediate move,” he said.
King Abdullah of Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel more than 20 years ago, told the Istanbul Summit that he rejected any attempt to change the status quo of Jerusalem and its holy sites. Iran said the Muslim world should overcome internal problems through dialogue in order to unite against Israel. “America seeks only to secure the maximum interests of the Zionists and has no respect for the legitimate rights of Palestinians,” President Hassan Rouhani told the summit.
U.S. ‘wholly responsible for consequences’
The declaration also said the OIC holds the U.S. “wholly responsible for the consequences of not retracting this illegal decision,” which the organization regards as “an announcement of the U.S. administration’s withdrawal from its role as sponsor of peace.”
It also called on the U.N. Security Council to assume its responsibilities immediately and reaffirm the legal status of the City of Al-Quds Ash-Sharif, and to end the Israeli occupation of the land of the State of Palestine.
The communiqué affirmed “its readiness to take up this grave violation in the UN General Assembly should the UN Security Council fail to act.”