Leaders and senior officials from Muslim countries are expected to hold an extraordinary summit Wednesday in Istanbul, Turkey in response to a U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the extraordinary session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as the organization’s term-president to produce a unified Islamic position.
The Turkish leader has been one of the most outspoken critics of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision which also includes starting immediately the process of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“Declaring it (Jerusalem) as a capital and relocating the (U.S.) embassy has no validity for us,” Erdogan has said.
Addressing a meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party in Turkey’s central Anatolia city of Sivas on Sunday, he also called Israel “an occupying and a terrorist state.”
Israel took over East Jerusalem, revered by Muslims as the third holiest site in Islam, in the 1967 war, and declared unilaterally the whole city as its eternal capital.
However, this move has never been accepted by the international community, which has called for reaching a final settlement of the dispute through Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday criticized some Arab countries for “refraining from challenging Trump,” noting that the OIC summit is seeking recognition of the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Most OIC members are expected to attend, including the Palestinian president, the Iranian president, the Lebanese president and the Jordanian king.
Prior to the summit, the Turkish president met on Tuesday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Istanbul. The closed-door meeting lasted for one hour, and no statement was made thereafter, according to Turkish media.
The OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations with a membership of 57 states spread over four continents.
Trump’s announcement over the contested city has sparked days of violent clashes in Gaza Strip and West Bank as well as protests in other Arab countries. Several rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel over the past few days.
According to a health official in Gaza, clashes between Palestinian young protestors and Israeli soldiers continued on Tuesday at the border areas between Gaza and Israel, with five moderately injured by live bullets so far.