Palestinian official urges Istanbul summit: Recognize Jerusalem as our capital

By Seth J. Frantzman
December 11, 2017 18:28
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) address the media at the Presidential Palace in Ankara January 12, 2015.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Organization of Islamic Cooperation meets Wednesday at invitation of Turkish President

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hopes to bring together Muslim countries in Istanbul on Wednesday as part of Ankara’s response to Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The meeting is likely to ramp up tensions surrounding Jerusalem, after the Turkish president also called Israel a “state of occupation and a terror state” on December 10 and the Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem governor called on Muslim countries to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine at the meeting.

On December, 6 Erdogan invited the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to an emergency meeting in Istanbul. Ibrahim Kalin, the President’s spokesperson, said that Erdogan had spoken with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other Muslim heads of State in Qatar, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Tunisia and Indonesia.

Ankara was outraged by the US president’s Jerusalem decision.

“We will continue to stand with the oppressed, we will use every opportunity we have for our first qibla, Jerusalem,” the Turkish president said on Sunday, referring to Islamic prayers and the holy city.

Turkey has accused the US of being a “partner in bloodshed,” and Turkish media has widely circulated a photo of a blindfolded Palestinian teenager being led away by IDF troops.

This comes in the context of Turkish anger over the US support for the Syrian Democratic Forces in eastern Syria, which Turkey sees as a partner of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units and Kurdistan Workers Party, which the latter Turkey and other countries view as a terrorist organization. In October, the US and Turkey were embroiled in a controversy over visas and the two countries have strained relations.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will attend the Istanbul summit and deliver a speech, Iranian media reported. He is supposed to leave for Turkey the night of December 12. Erdogan and Rouhani met in Sochi in late November with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Jerusalem issue has united some in the OIC.

Last year in Istanbul, Iran was criticized for “interference” in the region and “support for terrorism.”

The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, is likely to attend and Lebanese President Michael Aoun will also attend. King Abdullah of Jordan, who was just in Turkey, is also likely to attend.

The Istanbul meeting comes two days after the Arab League condemned the Jerusalem decision on Saturday. On Monday, Abbas went to Cairo to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Paris.

Adnan al-Husayni, the Palestinian Authority’s designated “governor” for Jerusalem claimed declaring Jerusalem the Palestinian capital would be an answer to Trump’s speech. “It can have a very strong impact on the political level.”

It is still unclear whether some of the key leaders in the region will attend or send a high level representative to the Istanbul meeting.

On December 11, Sisi met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Cairo. Putin had just come from a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad, where he ordered some troops withdrawn from Syria. Saudi Arabia’s attendance will also be key to any important decisions to come from Istanbul.

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