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

Leaders and representatives of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states pose for a group photo during an extraordinary meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, December 13, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

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.

Members of the media work at the press backdropped by a live broadcast of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressing the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s extraordinary Summit in Istanbul, December 13, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

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.

Rouhani: Muslims must unite against Israel

In his address to OIC leaders, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described the Zionists as “strangers” who have planted seeds of regional violence in the Middle East.

Rouhani expressed Iran’s preparedness to cooperate with Muslim countries to defend the Palestinian rights and called on Muslims across the world to unite against Israel’s policies.

The Iranian chief executive slammed certain regional states for seeking to establish relations with the Zionist regime, warning, “Today it is no secret that the biggest enemy of the Jews [is] not the Muslims and Arabs but the dangerous project of Zionism.”

“Instead of countering the threats of the Zionists, some countries in our region are aligned with the US and Zionists to prescribe the fate of Palestine—If such prescriptions are taken, the Zionists would permanently dominate the Palestinians,” Rouhani said.

The Iranian president further called on the Muslim world to unite against the Zionist regime.

“If we suffer from differences amongst ourselves over some issues, we should not be divided on defending the holy Quds and the Palestinian cause. All the problems of the Muslim world can be resolved through dialogue. It is only through Islamic unity that we can better support the rights of the Islamic Ummah and the holy Quds,” he added.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends an OIC summit in Istanbul, Turkey, December 13, 2017.

Prior to his speech to OIC leaders, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took to twitter to condemn the US for disrespecting Palestinian rights.

“The recent decision by the US admin made it clear that the US is only seeking to secure the maximum interests of the Zionists and has no respect for the legitimate rights of Palestinians. The US has never been an honest mediator and will never be,” Rouhani tweeted.

‘Al-Quds status quo must not change’

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.”

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.

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

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.

“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.

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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