A group of 57 Muslim leaders declared Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, in the strongest response yet to U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), meeting at an extraordinary summit in Istanbul on Wednesday, said Trump’s December 7 decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, breaking with decades of U.S. policy, is legally “null and void” and “a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts.” The Muslim leaders declared “East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine,” and invited all countries to follow suit.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking at the summit, said Trump’s move was “the greatest crime” and that “Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of Palestine.”
Abbas also announced plans to go to the United Nations Security Council to seek full U.N. membership for Palestine, though did not elaborate on the plan.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who called the summit in response to Trump’s announcement, said that the U.S. was biased and could no longer play a role in any peace talks.
“From now on, it is out of the question for a biased United States to be a mediator between Israel and Palestine, that period is over,” he told a news conference after the summit.
We are in #Istanbul at #OIC Summit for #IslamicUnityForQuds
“We need to discuss who will be a mediator from now on. This needs to be tackled in the U.N. too,” Erdoğan said.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said at the summit that the U.S. decision showed a lack of respect for the rights of Palestinians and called for Muslim countries to make Jerusalem their “top priority.”
On Twitter, Rouhani said that the U.S. was not an “honest mediator and never will be.”
The 23-point communique issued by the OIC, showing a high degree of unity among the Islamic nations, came despite the decision taken by Saudi Arabia and its allies to only send low-level official delegations to the summit.
In spite of global opposition, Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at a short speech at the White House on December 7. He said that it was “nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality.”
Trump also instructed the state department to arrange for the transfer of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The move provoked anger in the Muslim world and led to violent clashes in the West Bank. The issue goes to the heart of the Israeli/Palestinian dispute as both sides lay claim to the historic city. Jerusalem’s status, which is home to Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, is meant to be discussed at a later stage of peace talks.