Plight of Palestinians takes centre stage after US decision to recognise Jerusalem as capital of Israel.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has declared East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, rejected the US stance as “dangerous” and called on the international community to follow in its footsteps.
At a summit held in Turkey a week after US President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the group of Muslim leaders on Wednesday called on all countries to “recognise the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital”.
In a statement, the OIC added that the 57-member group remains committed to a “just and comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution”.
It also called on the UN 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 said.
Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, said the summit in Istanbul highlighted that Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims continue to be committed to peace.
“Now, Muslim countries in addition to a whole lot of others that are allied with the Palestinian cause will recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine,” he said.
“And those Islamic countries are ready to sever relations to punish any one country that follows in the footsteps of the United States in recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
Speaking earlier on Wednesday, Yousef al-Othaimeen, the OIC’s secretary general, rejected the US decision and urged Muslim leaders to work together to present a united response to the move.
“The OIC rejects and condemns the American decision,” he said. “This is a violation of international law … and this is a provocation of the feelings of Muslims within the world.
“It will create a situation of instability in the region and in the world.”
Founded in 1969, the OIC bills itself as “the collective voice of the Muslim world”.
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 decision violated international law, according to Abbas.
“We shall not accept any role for the United States in the peace process, they have proven their full bias in favour of Israel,” he said.
“Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of Palestine.”
Palestinians envisage East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. Israel, meanwhile, says Jerusalem, which is under Israeli occupation, cannot be divided.
The comments by Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) were seen as his strongest yet on the issue.
Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Ramallah, said Palestinians were “very frustrated” after seeing “many agreements and many condemnations” but “nothing really changing for them on the ground”.
“When you ask them who they hold responsible for that, they say certainly the PA, their own leadership,” she said, citing Palestinians’ disappointment about the disunity among their different political factions.
Abdel-Hamid also said that “there is a belief among many Palestinians that Trump’s Jerusalem move couldn’t have happened without the green light of Saudi Arabia”.
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.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announces in no uncertain terms that the PA “will not accept or allow for the #US government to play a role in mediating a peace deal”. His strongest statement since @realDonaldTrump decision on #Jerusalem #OIC pic.twitter.com/nQsoh4Y73k
— Jamal Elshayyal جمال الدين الشيال (@JamalsNews) December 13, 2017
The extraordinary OIC summit was called for by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following Trump’s announcement.
Speaking at the meeting, Erdogan accused Israel of being a “state of terror” and said the US’ recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel had been rebuked by the international community.
“It is null and void … except Israel, no country in the world has supported [this decision],” he said.
“Anyone who walks a few minutes in the streets of Jerusalem will recognise this city is under occupation.”
Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow, reporting from Istanbul, said Erdogan was seeking to “unite the Muslim world” and “come up with a concerted response” to the US’ move.
“He faces a daunting task,” our correspondent said. “In the hall that he was addressing, there were countries who are not willing to go beyond rhetoric opposition at the expense of sacrificing their relationship with the United States,” he said.
Trump’s move has provoked 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.