By Carlotta Gall
December 13, 2017
Leaders and officials of Muslim nations declared East Jerusalem the Palestinian capital on Wednesday at a summit meeting in Istanbul, producing the strongest response yet to President Trump’s decision to recognize the city as Israel’s capital.
The gathering of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation was held to formulate a unified response from the Muslim world to Mr. Trump’s decision last week. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey was the host; the country currently holds the chair of the I.O.C., and Mr. Erdogan has long championed the Palestinian cause.
The meeting condemned in a communiqué Mr. Trump’s “unilateral” and “dangerous declaration” as an effort to change the status of Jerusalem. It said that it considered the action a violation of United Nations resolutions and legally null and void, and that it would hold the United States liable for all consequences of not retracting its decision.
It also said it took Mr. Trump’s declaration as an announcement that the United States was withdrawing from its role as a sponsor of peace for the region.
Among the 30 leaders present were Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, King Abdullah II of Jordan, President Michel Aoun of Lebanon, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, and the emirs of Kuwait and Qatar. Officials were present representing the full 57 members, Mr. Erdogan said.
A conservative Muslim, Mr. Erdogan has made the Palestinians’ fate a leading cause of his politics, styling himself as a leader of the wider Muslim community. He criticized some Arab states for what he called their weak response to Mr. Trump’s decision, suggesting they were intimidated by the United States.
Mr. Abbas on Wednesday told the gathering that Mr. Trump had committed the “greatest crime” with his declaration, and that the Palestinians would no longer accept any role of the United States in peace negotiations with Israel.
“Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of Palestine,” he said, adding that the United States was giving it away as if it were an American city. “It crosses all the red lines,” Mr. Abbas said.
Mr. Erdogan urged nations of the world to recognize the state of Palestine, and declared Jerusalem as its occupied capital. He warned there would be no peace in the region unless the city’s status was recognized as such.
The Turkish leader also voiced some of the strongest criticism of Mr. Trump. “How can you take a decision like that on your own?” Mr. Erdogan said, addressing Mr. Trump directly through a live news briefing.
Saying he expected the Americans to “reverse their mistake,” Mr. Erdogan added of Israel that “Palestine’s fate cannot be left in the hands of a country that brutally kills women and children alike.”
“Israel has been rewarded for all the terrorism that it did, and the award has been given by Trump, although he is alone,” Mr. Erdogan said. “While we were working for peace, we got the biggest slap in our face of our times.”
Calling Israel a terrorist state, he warned that “Israel will never have any legitimacy in Jerusalem.”