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A tough response

Dec 13,2017 - Last updated at Dec 13,2017

It is no coincedence that His Majesty King Abdullah paid a visit to Riyadh for talks with King Salman Bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman on the eve of the extraordinary summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul on Wednesday. 

There is a special bond that unites the two kingdoms and their shared values and opinions on regional issues, especially on Jerusalem in the wake of US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied Palestinian city.

The special meeting between King Abdullah and King Salman was also attended by HRH Crown Prince Hussein and senior officials from both countries. The urgent and timely discussions between the two sides reflected the deep-rooted historical ties between the two kingdoms that have withstood the test of time.

As King Salman pointed out during the talks, the security of Jordan and Saudi Arabia is one and the same and what matters to Jordan matters to Saudi Arabia, and what harms Jordan harms Saudi Arabia. 

Extraordinary developments in the region require extraordinary efforts and cooperation between the two countries — especially when the fate of Jerusalem is hanging in the balance. The brotherly meeting between the two monarchs assumes an even more pressing goal now that other regional conflicts remain unresolved. 

King Abdullah's talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman on the heels of the talks with King Salman came to bolster bilateral relations between the two kingdoms on all matters at a time when regional developments require additional coordination between the two countries.

The belated US decision to disturb Arab, Muslim and international consensus on the status of Jerusalem has raised the possibility of more evolving conflicts in the region and beyond. 

The OIC summit started with a speech by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who highlighted the dangers that the new US position on Jerusalem poses not only to the Muslim world but also to the rest of the international community. 

Sufficed to recall, Erdogan said, that that the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel violates and repudiates every UN resolution on the holy city. The Turkish president ended his address by calling for the recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine and paying a special tribute and appreciation for the Hashemite custodianship over the Islamic and Christian holy places in Jerusalem. 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas termed Trump's decision on Jerusalem as extremely dangerous with ominous consequences for the peace process. Abbas also called for the recognition of the Palestinian state in the West Bank with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinian leader also expressed the recognition and appreciation for the valuable role of His Majesty King Abdullah in protecting the Islamic and Christian holy shrines in East Jerusalem and for continued Jordanian efforts to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians. 

His Majesty King Abdullah's address in the morning session of the summit also categorised Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his decision to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as dangerous and provocative not only to Muslims but to Christians as well. 

"Attempts to Judaise Jerusalem and alter its Arab, Islamic and Christian identity will unleash further violence and extremism," the King said.  

The King pledged to "counter any attempt to change the historical and legal status quo at Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif". Jerusalem "is in the hearts of all Muslims and all Christians". 

The place of Jerusalem in Islam and Christianity is profound and for this reason "the Hashemite Custodianship of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem is a historical responsibility that Jordan is honoured to continue to uphold", the King said.

The King summed up his speech by calling for a just and fair settlement of the Palestinian conflict by the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank with East Jerusalem as its capital. 

The summit concluded its deliberations by adopting a final communiqué condemning Trump's decision and calling it null and void and asking the international community, spearheaded by Muslim countries, to recognise East Jerusalem as the future capital of the impending Palestinian state on Palestinian soil. 

 

How the international community, especially the US, will respond to the concerns of the OIC has yet to be discerned. Judging from past experiences, Washington cannot be expected to heed the OIC's recommendations and will rather enter into a confrontation with the international community than respect the rule of law on Jerusalem.

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