Muslim leaders slam Trump, U.S. over embassy move

By Ed Adamczyk  |  Dec. 13, 2017 at 7:18 AM
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Dec. 13 (UPI) -- A conference of leaders of Muslim countries called for Palestinian recognition and slammed President Donald Trump's plan to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel.

The summit of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, Turkey, was arranged after Trump announced last week that the United States will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The summit called for global recognition of East Jerusalem -- largely populated by Palestinians and home to sites considered holy by Muslims, Jews and Christians -- as "the occupied capital of a Palestinian state." It also declared Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy unlawful.

In opening remarks at the summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Israel an "occupying and terrorist state" and asked "all just countries" to instead recognize Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. He added that predominantly Muslim countries will never abandon Palestine's hopes for sovereignty and independence.

"While the occupying state is being recognized, there is no logical reason for the party that wants peace, that lives in one-fifth of historical Palestine to not be recognized," Erdoğan said, a reference to Israeli use of Jerusalem as its capital despite its Palestinian population and the presence of important Muslim religious sites there. "Only Israel, which occupies Jerusalem, supported the U.S.' unlawful decision. We thank all the countries who did not accept this illegitimate decision."

Trump's announcement was widely condemned across the Middle East. Many regarded the policy move as the end of any pretense of U.S. neutrality in brokering an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement.

Israel was "almost rewarded" by Trump for "terrorist actions," Erdoğan said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also spoke at the summit Wednesday, saying, "Trump wants to give Jerusalem as a present to Israel, as if he is donating one of the U.S. states, as if he is the only person with the authority to decide. The U.S. has lost its mediator role in the Israel Palestine peace process, and we will never allow in the future that the U.S. takes part in the process. We want OIC to support us in this decision."

Tensions have increased in Palestinian territories since Trump's announcement. At least two people were killed by Israeli security forces and hundreds were injured during demonstrations last week.

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