Erdogan Forges Accord to Name East Jerusalem Palestinian Capital

  • Turkey’s Erdogan leads opposition to Trump’s policy shift
  • OIC leaders met in Istanbul at emergency summit on Wednesday
Assessing the Impact of Trump's Jerusalem Decision

The world’s largest bloc of Muslim countries declared East Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian state at a meeting convened by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, solidifying opposition to President Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital.

The 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation said in a joint statement on Wednesday that it considered Trump’s declaration “null and void legally” and as an attack on the rights of the Palestinian people. The declaration was spearheaded by Erdogan, who urged Muslims around the world to recognize East Jerusalem as the occupied capital of Palestine at a speech during the extraordinary summit in Istanbul.

Erdogan has taken the lead in blasting Trump’s decision to overturn decades of U.S. policy on the status of the divided city, which is home to some of the most sacred sites in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, making it a tinder box for competing religious claims. Erdogan and Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu have traded insults since Trump’s declaration, setting back a fragile attempt to repair relations between their two nations.

Push Back

Erdogan’s efforts on the Jerusalem issue show him taking on the role of a global coordinator for the Muslim world’s push back against U.S. support for Israel, according to Anthony Skinner, a director at U.K.-based forecasting company Verisk Maplecroft.

“Today’s decision by the OIC intends to even the playing field for the Palestinians and to counter Trump’s statement,” Skinner said by email on Wednesday. “Recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine may ultimately place Israel under greater pressure than if the Muslim world took Trump’s declaration lying down.”

Erdogan has said that Trump’s plan to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv violates a decades-old United Nations Security Council resolution that called for the withdrawal of established diplomatic missions from the city, and that it “disqualifies” the U.S. as a mediator in the peace process. Fourteen nations on the 15-member Security Council voted in favor of the resolution in 1980, while the U.S. abstained.

Trump’s announcement on Dec. 6 drew broad international condemnation and triggered renewed violence between Palestinians and Israeli troops in the West Bank.

Read more: Why Jerusalem’s Status Is a Capital Controversy: QuickTake Q&A

The international community regards Jerusalem’s eastern sector as occupied territory and says Jerusalem’s final status must be negotiated, not unilaterally declared. The White House has said that any actual move of the embassy would take years and that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem are still subject to peace talks that have bedeviled U.S. presidents for decades.

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