BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called on world nations to recognise East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestine, in light of Donald Trump’s recent decision to recognise the contested city as the Israeli capital.

At an emergency summit held in Turkey on Wednesday, the 57-member body issued a strongly-worded statement condemning the US government’s “dangerous declaration”, calling it an attack on the historical and legal rights of the Palestinian people, and a deliberate undermining of peace efforts.

[We] hold the U.S. administration fully liable for all the consequences of not retracting from this illegal decision; and regard it as an announcement of the U.S. administration’s withdrawal from its role as sponsor of peace. 

— OIC communiqué

Addressing the gathering, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, said his government had serious concerns over the change in status quo regarding Jerusalem.

The monarch said Brunei supported the OIC’s communiqué, which states that any unilateral move to change the legal status of Jerusalem was “null and void” and a “serious violation of international law”.

His Majesty was among several Muslim leaders attending the summit in Istanbul, alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who chaired the meeting, Jordan’s King Abdullah, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The sultan added that a “just and lasting solution” to the plight of the Palestinian people was long overdue, and that a consensus must be reached by both sides in order to realise an internationally-recognised Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

During the meeting, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the United Nations to take over the peace process, saying Palestinians would no longer accept any US role in mediation because of its bias towards Israel.

President Trump’s December 6 announcement endorsing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital broke with decades of US foreign policy and was near universally condemned by the international community.

The move triggered protests across the Muslim world and deadly clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

During a UN Security Council meeting on December 9, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, roundly rejected criticism from other countries over the planned move of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

She said it was “simple common sense that foreign embassies be located” in Jerusalem, home to Israel’s parliament and seat of government. However, the international community has never recognised Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem, and all foreign embassies are located in Tel Aviv, Israel’s financial centre.

Jerusalem remains “the most emotionally-charged and difficult subject” in the two-state solution, said Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, while Israel says the city, which it has occupied by force since the 1967 war, cannot be divided.