Muslim Leaders Declare 'East Jerusalem As The Capital Of The State Of Palestine'

December 14, 2017

A final communique, agreed by delegates from all 57 members from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Wednesday, called on "all countries to recognize the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital." Wednesday's emergency summit in Istanbul, called by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, came in response to US President Donald Trump's recognition last week of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Muslim leaders "rejected and condemned" Trump's Jerusalem announcement, saying in the declaration that they considered it to be "null and void legally." They also invited the US president to rescind the "unlawful decision that might trigger chaos in the region."

Trump's announcement was "a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts" that would give impetus to "extremism and terrorism," the declaration said. The White House said it is still committed to reaching peace in the Middle East, and will remain "hard at work putting together our plan, which will benefit the Israeli and Palestinian peoples." But Erdogan told delegates that Trump's actions meant the US could no longer be an unbiased broker.

Netanyahu: 'Not impressed'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded later Wednesday, criticizing the Muslim leaders' plea for countries to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. "We are not impressed by all these statements," he said in a speech. "It is better for the Palestinians to recognize reality and act for peace, not for radicalization, and to recognize another fact about Jerusalem: not only is it the capital of Israel, we also maintain respect in Jerusalem for the freedom of worship for all religions."

Erdogan's decries Israeli 'occupation'

Jerusalem's status remains one of the core issues of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel captured the predominantly Arab eastern part of the holy city during the 1967 Middle East war. Its claim to the entire city, which it sees as the ancient capital of the Jewish people, was never internationally recognized. Trump reversed that policy last week.

Abbas: UN should broker peace talks

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told OIC delegates he would ask the United Nations General Assembly to cancel Israel's UN status and seek full membership for Palestine. He added that he would appeal to the Security Council to annul the US move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and that his people would refuse any role for the US in future peace talks. "We do not accept any role of the United States in the political process from now on because it is completely biased towards Israel," Abbas said.

Abbas described Washington's decision as "the greatest crime" that showed it was no longer "fit" to broker talks. Instead, the Palestinian president said he wanted to see the UN taking charge of the peace process and the creation of a new mechanism. Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, accused the US of lacking any respect for the Palestinians and their rights to a nation. Arriving at the summit, Rouhani posted on Twitter that Trump's move showed that the US was not "an honest mediator and will never be," adding that Washington wanted only to "secure the interests of the Zionists."

Jordan's King Abdullah II also warned that recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital was "dangerous and destabilizing decision." Jordan, which along with Egypt is one of only two Arab nations with diplomatic ties to Israel, stressed that "our region cannot enjoy peace without the two-state solution," referring to the peace mechanism that would see Israelis and Palestinians granted their own separate state.