Leaders and high-ranking officials of Muslim countries will meet Wednesday in Istanbul for an extraordinary summit to discuss “repercussions” from the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation session aims to produce a “unified Islamic position.” The umbrella organization of 57-members called US President Donald Trump’s statement last week an “illegal decision” and a “serious escalation.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who acts as chairman of the OIC, has been vehemently critical of the US move and said Monday the leaders would relay a “strong message.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, Jordanian King Abdullah II and top ministers of numerous nations will be attending the session.
The holy city’s status is at the heart of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict and significant for Jews, Palestinians and Muslims worldwide. Jerusalem’s Old City is centered around the Temple Mount, the holiest place in the world to Jews and the third-holiest to Muslims.
Most countries around the world have not recognized Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, which it took control of during the 1967 Six Day War. Under longstanding international consensus, the fate of the city is to be determined in negotiations.
In an address last Wednesday from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.
The move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.
Trump’s announcement, which included a pledge to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, was widely seen as siding with Israel.
Protests in Gaza and the West Bank turned violent last week. Demonstrations across the Muslim world displayed an outpouring of anger against the US and Israel.
The United Nations and numerous states have warned the US decision could further escalate tensions. Even small crises over Jerusalem’s status and its holy sites have sparked deadly violence in the past.
The OIC convened another extraordinary meeting in Istanbul in August after Israel installed additional security measures at the Temple Mount after a deadly terror attack there. The move led to protests and clashes until it was reversed.
Erdogan met Abbas Tuesday evening in Istanbul ahead of the summit.