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Muslim leaders discuss al-Quds at OIC emergency summit in Turkey

13 December 2017 13:40

 

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) convenes an urgent summit in Istanbul on Washington’s contentious declaration on Jerusalem al-Quds, with the Turkish foreign minister urging Muslim nations to respond by pressing the world for the recognition of the city as the capital of a Palestinian state.

Representatives from 57 OIC members are attending the summit, which is meant to coordinate a response to a US decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital.”

“Firstly the Palestinian state must be recognized by all other countries. We must all strive together for this,” the top Turkish diplomat, Mevlut Cavusoglu , said. “We must encourage other countries to recognize the Palestinian state on the basis of its 1967 borders with East Jerusalem [al-Quds] as its capital.”

Erdogan: al-Quds ‘red line for Muslims’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the OIC, was the first head of state to address the event.

He told OIC leaders that Israel’s expansionism is “skyrocketing,” describing the entity as “a state of occupation.” “Besides this, Israel is a state of terror.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses an OIC summit in Istanbul, December 13, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Turkish leader further urged the international community to recognize East Jerusalem as the “capital of Palestine.”

Erdogan described Washington’s decision as a reward for Israeli “terror acts” and said the city was a red line for Muslims.

‘Al-Quds will forever be Palestine’s capital’

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas decried the Trump administration’s decision as the “greatest crime” and a flagrant violation of international law. He said Washington was giving away Jerusalem al-Quds a “gift” to the “Zionist movement” as if it were an American city, adding, “It crosses all the red lines.”

“Jerusalem [al-Quds] is and will forever be the capital of the Palestinian state… There will be no peace, no stability without that,” he said.

Abbas rejected any future role for the United States in the so-called Middle East peace process, noting that Washington is biased in favor of Israel.

He called on the UN to assume the mediating role in the Mideast peace process and revive it with a new mechanism as the US is no longer “fit” for the task.

The Palestinian president pointed to the unanimous international opposition to Trump’s decision, calling it a “provocation” to Muslim and Christian sentiments.

Jordanian King Abdullah II rejected any attempt to change the status quo of East Jerusalem al-Quds and its holy sites.

He stressed that the Middle East cannot witness peace until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved. “All violence… is a result of a failure to find a peaceful solution to the Palestinian issue.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Lebanese President Michel Aoun are also among the participants.

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump announced that the US was recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” and tasked the State Department with making preparations for the relocation of Washington’s embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied Palestinian city.

The dramatic shift in Washington’s Jerusalem al-Quds policy drew fierce criticism from the international community, including the United States’ Western allies, and triggered demonstrations against the US and Israel worldwide.

On Tuesday, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, reaffirmed the position of the European Union, saying East Jerusalem, which hosts the al-Aqa Mosque compound, shall become the capital of a Palestinian state and the western part of the city shall go to Israel as part of a so-called two state solution.

People demonstrate with Palestinian flags on December 12, 2017 in front of Berlin’s main station. (Photo by AFP)

“We have made it clear that we will continue to respect the international consensus on Jerusalem [al-Quds], as Europeans, including the relocation of our embassies until the final status of Jerusalem [al-Quds] is resolved through direct negotiations between the parties,” she added.

On Saturday, Arab League foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo. The meeting urged Washington to rescind its decision and called on the international community to recognize the Palestinian state.

On the eve of the OIC summit, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu lashed out at some Arab countries over their “very weak” reaction to US recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital.

Cavusoglu stressed that the OIC meeting must stand up to what he described as Washington’s “I am a superpower, I can do anything” mentality.

Sources in the Turkish presidency said Saturday that Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron had spoken on the phone over the case. They said the two leaders agreed to work together to persuade the US to reconsider its decision.

Also at a joint press conference after talks in Ankara on Monday, Erdogan said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin believe that Israel continues to “add fuel to the flames.”

Jerusalem al-Quds is under Israel’s control. The international community views the regime’s grip on the eastern part of the city, which came after the Six-Day War of 1967, as illegal, and urges talks to decide the fate of the entire city in any future peace deal.

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