Wednesday, January 24, 2018 | ePaper
OIC declares East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital
Al Jazeera News :
Leaders and representatives of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states pose for a group photo during an extraordinary meeting in Istanbul on Wednesday. Internet photo
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.
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 US President Donald 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 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, the OIC's secretary general Yousef al-Othaimeen rejected the United States' decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Al-Othaimeen 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." Speaking before al-Othaimeen, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the US had "disqualified" itself from future Israel-Palestine peace talks after proving its "bias in favour of Israel".
Founded in 1969, the OIC bills itself as "the collective voice of the Muslim world".
President 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, while Israel says Jerusalem, which is under Israeli occupation, cannot be divided.
Abbas' comments were seen as his strongest yet on the issue.
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 â€¦ 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.