Recognise East Jerusalem as Palestine's capital, Muslim leaders say in joint call

Organisation for Islamic Co-operation member states declare Donald Trump's Jerusalem policy 'null and void legally'


Muslim leaders declared Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “null and void legally” as they launched a bid to have the east of the city recognised internationally as Palestine’s capital.

The member states of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) said in a joint declaration that they regarded the United States’ change of policy as “an announcement of the US Administration’s withdrawal from its role as a sponsor of peace”.

The document was agreed at a special summit was convened in Istanbul on Wednesday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, after Mr Trump reversed decades of US policy last week by recognising Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel.

OIC member states said in response that they declared “East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine” and added: “[we] invite all countries to recognise the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital.”

But despite repeatedly denouncing Israel and the United States during their public remarks, the leaders did not agree any sanctions against either country.

There was no agreement on proposals to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace, although member states repeated the OIC’s previous call for two-state solution.

“I invite all the countries that value international law and justice to recognise Jerusalem as the occupied capital of the Palestinian state,” Mr Erdoğan said at the summit.

Describing Israel as a “state of terror”, he added: “We need a diplomatic solution. We have to stop Israel gaining more land from Palestine day by day. And we must not accept the policies and attitude Israel has been displaying day by day.”

In his own speech Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Mr Trump’s announcement amounted to the “greatest crime” and a flagrant violation of international law.

He said America had “disqualified itself from playing a role in the peace process”, adding: “They have proven their full bias in favour of Israel.”

The summit was also attended by King Abdullah of Jordan and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani.

Mr Rouhani tweeted that Mr Trump's decision showed the United States had no respect for Palestinian rights and could never be an honest mediator.

Saudi Arabia sent only senior officials from the foreign ministry, a move that was attacked by Iran, whose leader Mr Rouhani declared: “Some countries in our region are in cooperation with the United States and the Zionist regime and determining the fate of Palestine.”

Nevertheless, speaking from Riyadh, King Salman echoed Mr Erdogan’s calls, saying it is the “right” of the Palestinians to establish “their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital”.

Mr Trump said in his speech last week: “This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement.

“Israel is a sovereign nation, with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this is a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.”

But the move was widely criticised by other world leaders, including Britain’s Theresa May.

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