Following a days-long Saudi-led “emergency summit” of Arab and Muslim countries in Mecca, focused mostly on “threats” posed to the Kingdom by Iran, leaders threw their support behind the Palestinians in a much-needed boost for President Mahmoud Abbas and the PA.
The 57 members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) released a joint statement at the end of the summit on Saturday, condemning countries who had moved or promised to move their embassies to Jerusalem for a “serious violation” of international law.
The OIC called for a boycott of said countries, and urged member states to “take appropriate measures” against any country, like the U.S., that moves to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (The U.S. moved its embassy in May 2018.)
In the statement, the OIC threw its support behind the Palestinian people and government in an indirect reference to the revelation of the U.S. peace plan, which is rumored to feature little to no mention of Palestinian statehood and sovereignty.
“The Palestinian people have the right to achieve their inalienable national rights, including their right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State,” the statement said.
The conference, called primarily by Saudi officials to solidify regional support for the Kingdom in the face of what they called Iranian “terrorist” threats, came at a crucial time for Palestinian and American officials.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, senior adviser, and main architect of the so-called “deal of the century,” has been touring the Middle East in recent weeks in an effort to gain support for his peace proposal, which he plans on unveiling in Bahrain next month.
Kushner has been banking on support from two major players, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to help push his plan on the Palestinians with the allure of economic incentives and investments.
The two countries were the first to announce their intentions to attend the “economic workshop” in Bahrain, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has a strong personal relationship with Kushner.
But according to media reports, the crown prince’s father, King Salman told leaders gathered at the Mecca summit: “The Palestinian cause is the cornerstone of the works of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and is the focus of our attention until the brotherly Palestinian people get all their legitimate rights.”
“We reaffirm our unequivocal rejection of any measures that would prejudice the historical and legal status of Quds [Jerusalem],” he said.
Though the crown prince is largely seen as the decision maker when it comes to foreign policy, the King’s remarks could signal a setback for Kushner, who in addition to major pushback on his plan from Palestinian leaders, is now facing an uncertain and rocky political climate in Israel with the failure of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a governing coalition.
Palestinian officials praised leaders at the conference for their support, and for sending “a strong and clear message to the U.S. administration and Israel.”
The Jerusalem Post quoted President Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, as saying, “[E]veryone must understand peace has only one clear path and its address is the legitimate leadership of the Palestinian people, and not fake deals or economic schemes that are not worth the ink they are written with.”