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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and King Salman discuss US Jerusalem move

Earlier in the day, the Saudi king said Palestinians should have the right to east Jerusalem as their capital, echoing calls made during an emergency summit of leaders from the Islamic world taking place in Istanbul

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed met with Saudi Arabia's King Salman in Riyadh on Wednesday to discuss bilateral ties and review the fallout from the US's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and King Salman discussed ways to find a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian issue, state news agency Wam reported.

Earlier in the day, King Salman said Palestinians should have the right to Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as their capital, echoing calls made during an emergency summit of leaders from the Islamic world taking place in Istanbul.

"The kingdom has called for a political solution to resolve regional crises, foremost of which is the Palestinian issue and the restoration of the Palestinian people's legitimate rights, including the right to establish their independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital," King Salman said in a televised speech to the kingdom's consultative Shura council.

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His comments came as Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted an emergency summit of the world's main pan-Islamic body, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in Istanbul, seeking a co-ordinated response to the change in US policy on Jerusalem announced by president Donald Trump last week.

In its final statement, the emergency summit declared "east Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine" and invited "all countries to recognise the state of Palestine and east Jerusalem as its occupied capital".

The leaders of Muslim countries also declared Mr Trump's decision "null and void legally" and "a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts" that would give impetus to "extremism and terrorism". The final statement said the OIC summit regarded Mr Trump's move "as an announcement of the US administration's withdrawal from its role as sponsor of peace" in the Middle East.

The step by Washington amounted to "encouragement of Israel … to continue its policy of colonialism, settlement, apartheid and ethnic cleansing", the leaders said.

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, and an international consensus has long held that the city's status should be decided in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

At the OIC summit, Turkey criticised what it described as a weak Arab response on the issue of contested Jerusalem.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, centre, is joined by Jordan's King Abdullah, left, and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, right, in the front row of a group photo during an emergency summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul on December 13, 2017. Yasin Akgul / AFP
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, centre, is joined by Jordan's King Abdullah, left, and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, right, in the front row of a group photo during an emergency summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul on December 13, 2017. Yasin Akgul / AFP

In his opening remarks, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel was a state defined by "occupation" and "terror".

"Israel is a state of occupation. Besides this, Israel is a state of terror," Mr Erdogan said, adding: “I invite countries that claim international law and equity to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state under occupation."

Mr Erdogan said Jerusalem was a "red line" for Muslims, who will not accept aggression against the city's Islamic sanctuaries.

“It is a must for countries that have not yet recognised the Palestinian state to take this important step, to maintain a balance that will ensure good sense and justice in the region,” he said.

Meanwhile, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas reiterated that Palestinians "from now on" will not accept any US role in the Middle East peace process.

"Jerusalem is, and always will be, the capital of Palestine," Mr Abbas said, adding that Washington was giving away Jerusalem as if it were an American city.

"It crosses all the red lines," he said.

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Mr Abbas said the Palestinians were committed to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and would continue to fight violence. But that following Mr Trump's move on Jerusalem, Washington could no longer be accepted as a fair negotiator.

The Palestinian leader pointed out that the international community has nearly unanimously opposed Mr Trump's decision, calling it a "provocation" to Muslim and Christian sentiments and saying measures are needed to protect the identity of the divided city.

"It's time for countries who accept the two-state solution to recognise Palestine as a state", he said.

The secretary general of the OIC, Yousef bin Ahmad Al Othaimeen, also called on countries who have not recognised Palestine as a state to do so.

Mr Al Othaimeen described the US's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as "an exceptional challenge" facing Muslim nations, adding that the decision will fan violence in the region, giving extremists an excuse to sow chaos.

Jordan's King Abdullah, Lebanese president Michel Aoun, the emir of Kuwait and the presidents of Afghanistan and Indonesia all attended the emergency OIC summit.