On Wednesday, Turkey hosted an extraordinary summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as the organization's rotating president. The meeting was held in Istanbul at the request of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Although Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud was notably absent from the event, a number of world leaders, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and King of Jordon Abdullah II bin al-Hussein were present.
In his opening address, President Erdoğan warned that Israel was rendering peace elusive and accused the U.S. of encouraging fanatics by standing in solidarity with the Israeli government. Systematic violations of international law by a superpower would fuel extremism, he added, and made a presentation about the history of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands since 1947. Referring to Israel as a state of terror and occupation, the Turkish leader called on all OIC member states to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the currently occupied State of Palestine in an effort to ensure Israel's withdrawal to pre-1967 borders.
Palestinian President Abbas, who also addressed the opening session, delivered a strongly-worded speech to complain that the U.S. president had been "acting like he was handing over a federal state to Israel."
OIC member states cannot afford to remain indifferent toward what is happening in Palestine and made a joint declaration at the end of the summit. The declaration accepted 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. The OIC for the first time its history acted willingly by rejecting and condemning the decision of the U.S. recognizing "Al-Quds as the capital of Israel, the occupying power," and considered this decision "as an attack on the historical, legal, natural and national rights of the Palestinian people."
This joint declaration is of most importance for carrying out a road map and a good intention for playing a more active role in the Middle East peace process. The organization made a declaration for a common threat for entire Muslim community. We hope that this declaration will play a good part in deterring the U.S. from its dangerous decision.
At the same time, the OIC must reach out to Christian nations and cooperate with them more closely in order to inspire change. After all, Jerusalem is equally important to Muslims and Christians.
Unfortunately, countries like Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which merely dispatched their ministers to Istanbul, made it clear that they did not wish to be part of the solution. Needless to say, their leaders will find it difficult to explain to their own citizens why they refused to speak up against the Trump administration's Jerusalem move. We cannot be reasonably expected to believe that Donald Trump, whose irrational foreign policy has further deepened the regional chaos, can serve as a force for good in the Middle East. Furthermore, this reckless attempt will create unexpected consequence for Israel as well.