Arab foreign ministers are calling for international recognition of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, aiming to nullify a controversial US decision on the holy city’s status.
Ayman Safadi, the Jordanian foreign minister, hosted a committee of officials from Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Palestine in Amman on Saturday to discuss the Arab League’s response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last month.
The committee – created at an emergency meeting of the Arab League in Cairo on December 9, just days after Trump’s declaration – is hoping to reverse the decision and “to assert that it has no legal effect”, Safadi told reporters at the summit.
“We [the Arab League] will confront the decision by seeking a [UN] resolution, an international one, to recognise a Palestinian state on 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.
“We have specific requests, the most important of which is the recognition of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital according to the June 4, 1967, borders.”
Based on the discussions, ministers will make further recommendations to a full meeting of the Arab League, due to be held at the end of this month, Safadi added.
Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoom, reporting from Ramallah, said the summit revealed that Arab leaders feel more pressure should be applied to the international community on the issue of a future Palestinian state.
“They’re calling for an emergency meeting within the next few weeks to discuss the issue [and] to try to take it up with more urgency to ensure that, once again, this is very much on the agenda – not just for Arab governments, but also for the international community,” he said.
Divide in the Arab world
The summit was held as a report published by the New York Times on Saturday asserted that while Egypt’s government was publicly condemning Trump’s Jerusalem move, a state intelligence officer was asking influential TV hosts in the country to persuade their viewers to accept it.
The report was based on audio recordings obtained by the Times, in which Ashraf al-Kholi, the intelligence officer, can be heard telling the hosts that Egypt, like its “Arab brothers, are denouncing this matter”, but that “after that, this thing will become a reality”.
The report has raised questions about the level of consensus among Arab countries on the issue of Jerusalem, underscoring how complicated the issue of Jerusalem has become in the region, Jamjoom said.
“You have the public condemnation by Arab countries of Trump’s decision, but then on the other hand, especially among ordinary citizens, they say that Arab leaders simply aren’t doing enough to stand in solidarity with their Palestinian brethren at a time when they really need them to rally to the cause,” our correspondent said.
Trump’s Jerusalem decision has prompted widespread condemnation from many leaders throughout the Middle East, as well as from the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
On December 21, 128 members of the UNGA voted in favour of a resolution rejecting Trump’s decision. Nine countries – including the United States – voted against the resolution, and 35 abstained.
The status of Jerusalem, home to sites holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians, is one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After occupying the city’s eastern part in the 1967 War, Israel annexed the territory and proclaimed it as its “eternal, undivided capital.”
Palestinians, however, see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.