Netanyahu: OIC Jerusalem statement fails to impress us

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu rejects declaration of East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said the OIC's remarks on Jerusalem 'fail to impress' [File: Reuters]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected a declaration by Muslim leaders that East Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.

In reaction to the declaration by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Wednesday, Netanyahu said that “all these statements fail to impress us”.

“The truth will win in the end and many countries will certainly recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and also move their embassies,” he added in response to the comments made by Muslim leaders during the OIC’s emergency summit in Istanbul.

Earlier on Wednesday, the pan-Muslim body’s members called on the international community to follow in its footsteps by rejecting the US stance on Jerusalem as “dangerous”.

Trump announced on December 6 that the US formally recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will begin the process of moving its embassy to the city, breaking with decades of US policy.

The OIC also declared the move as a violation of international law.

Netanyahu added: “Not only is it the capital of Israel but in Jerusalem, we uphold freedom of worship for all faiths and it is we who are making this promise in the Middle East even though no one else does.” 

“The Palestinians would do well to recognise reality and work toward peace, not extremism, and acknowledge an additional fact regarding Jerusalem,” he said.

The OIC also called on the United Nations to “end the Israeli occupation” of Palestine and declared Trump’s administration liable for “all the consequences of not retracting from this illegal decision”.

“[We] consider that this dangerous declaration, which aims to change the legal status of the [city], is null and void and lacks any legitimacy,” the group, with representatives from 57 states, said.

The Istanbul summit was attended by just over 20 heads of state. Saudi Arabia, the host of the OIC headquarters, sent only a senior foreign ministry official. Others, including Egypt, deployed their foreign ministers.

During the summit, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the move effectively “disqualifies” the US as an honest broker in talks between Israel and Palestine.

The extraordinary OIC summit was called for by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following Trump’s announcement. Founded in 1969, the OIC bills itself as “the collective voice of the Muslim world”.

On Monday, Netanyahu met European Union leaders in Brussels and expressed his hope that “all or most” of the European states would move their embassies to Jerusalem. The EU shunned his call, saying the two-state solution remains the only path in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

The status of Jerusalem is extremely sensitive and is one of the main sticking points in efforts to resolve the conflict.

Trump’s move kindled a wave of protests from Asia, through the Middle East, to North Africa, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets in recent days to denounce his decision.

In the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, demonstrations met violence when Israeli forces fired live ammunition, dispersed tear gas canisters, and carried out a wave of arrests, leaving more than 1,900 people injured and imprisoning more than 250.

In the Gaza Strip, several Israeli air raids killed four people, and injured at least 25 others.

Source: Al Jazeera