13 December, 2017
Islamic leaders united on Wednesday to "reject and condemn" the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
A joint statement was released by the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC, after a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey.
It said the Muslim leaders "rejected and condemned in the strongest terms" the U.S. decision, which was announced last week by President Donald Trump.
The group's statement also declared "East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine." It urged all nations "to recognize the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital."
Israel captured east Jerusalem in 1967 and has declared all of Jerusalem its capital. But this is not recognized internationally.
The Palestinians seek to create their own state to include the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. The city's future has long been a major dispute in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke during the OIC meeting. He called Trump's decision a "crime." He said the action meant the U.S. had "chosen to lose its qualification as a mediator" in peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
"We will no longer accept that it (U.S.) has a role in the political process from now," Abbas said. He urged the United Nations to take over mediation efforts for the peace process.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also spoke during the OIC meeting. He said it was now "out of the question" for Washington to mediate between the Palestinians and the Israelis. He added: "That process is now over."
A senior White House official said Wednesday that President Trump "remains as committed to peace as ever." When asked about the latest statements, the official said such rhetoric was not surprising and "has prevented peace for years."
U.S. officials will remain "hard at work putting together our plan, which will benefit the Israeli and Palestinian peoples," the official added.
In his announcement last week, Trump said the U.S. would be open to a possible "two-state solution" for Jerusalem if the Israelis and Palestinians agree to such a settlement.
Trump's declaration was criticized by many political and religious leaders around the world. They said the future of Jerusalem should be decided by the two sides during peace talks and warned the action could lead to increased violence.
The U.S. decision also led to protests and clashes in several Palestinian areas last week, as well as demonstrations in other nations.
I'm Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
qualification – n. something that is necessary in order for a person or group to be a part of something
mediator – n. person or organization working with opposing sides in an argument in an effort to get agreement
rhetoric – n. language intended to influence people and that may not be honest or reasonable