Call to recognize E. Jerusalem as Palestine capital

AFP
Islamic leaders on Wednesday urged the world to recognize occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.
AFP
AFP

A picture taken on December 13, 2017, shows the Israeli and US flags placed on the roof of an Israeli settlement building in East Jerusalem and Jerusalem's Old City with the Dome of the Rock mosque in the centre. 

Islamic leaders on Wednesday urged the world to recognize occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned the United States no longer had any role to play in the peace process.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan convened in Istanbul an emergency summit of the world’s main pan-Islamic body, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), seeking a tough response to the recognition by US President Donald Trump of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

With the Islamic world itself mired in division, the summit fell well short of agreeing any concrete sanction against Israel or the United States.

But their final statement declared “East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine” and invited “all countries to recognize the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital.”

They declared Trump’s decision “null and void legally” and “a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts” that would give impetus to “extremism and terrorism.”

The status of Jerusalem, a city holy to Christians, Jews and Muslims, is perhaps the most sensitive issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel sees the entire city as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector, which the international community regards as annexed by Israel, as the capital of their future state.

Erdogan sought to underline his point with a powerpoint map presentation, flashing a laser pointer at how Palestinian territory had shrunk since the 1948 creation of Israel.

“The real proprietor of these lands is Palestine,” he told the final press conference. “Mr Trump wants all this to be Israel. This is the product of an evangelist and Zionist mentality,” said Erdogan, the current chair of the OIC.

Abbas warned that there could be “no peace or stability” in the Middle East until Jerusalem is recognized as the capital of a Palestinian state.

Moreover, he said that with Trump’s move the United States had withdrawn itself from a traditional role as the mediator in the search for Mideast peace.

“We do not accept any role of the United States in the political process from now on. Because it is completely biased towards Israel,” he said.

The OIC statement said Trump’s move was “an announcement of the US administration’s withdrawal from its role as sponsor of peace” in the Middle East.

Erdogan added that there can no longer be “any question” of the United States being a mediator. “This period is now over,” he said bluntly.

As the summit was being held, Saudi King Salman echoed the calls over Jerusalem in an address in Riyadh, saying it was the “right” of the Palestinians to establish “their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital”.

Trump’s announcement last week prompted an outpouring of anger in the Muslim and Arab world, where tens of thousands of people took to the streets to denounce the Jewish state and show solidarity with the Palestinians.

The decision sparked protests in Palestinian territories, with four Palestinians killed so far in clashes or Israeli air strikes in response to rocket fire from Gaza and hundreds wounded.


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