Turkey eyes revival of EU-OIC mechanism for Jerusalem
Serkan Demirtaş – BRUSSELS
Turkey is hoping to revive a joint mechanism by the European Union and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) for the status of Jerusalem, 16 years after the two bodies had first come together to avoid a deepening clash of civilizations between the West and the East in the post-Sep. 11 era.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who has been serving as the OIC term president, is set to discuss Turkey’s proposal with the EU’s high representative for foreign and security policies, Federica Mogherini, on April 27 in Brussels.
Palestine’s Foreign Minister Riyadh Malki and OIC Secretary-General Yousef Al-Othaimeen will also attend the meeting, the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced in a written statement on late April 26.
They will review recent developments in regards to Jerusalem since United States President Donald Trump’s instructions to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The U.S. is hoping to partially move the embassy to Jerusalem in May on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Israeli State.
As the term president of the OIC, Turkey has been very vocal against the U.S. decision and had initiated a series of diplomatic moves to nullify any U.S. action that would threaten the special status of Jerusalem. An urgent OIC Summit in Istanbul had declared east Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state while 128 countries condemned Trump’s decision on Jerusalem in a vote at the United Nations General Assembly.
A large delegation composed by high-level U.S. officials under the leadership of U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin is expected to be present at the opening ceremony of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14. This move is expected to once again fuel tension in Jerusalem, which was the scene of massive protests in late 2017 after Trump had announced his decision.
Turkey has long been urging the U.S. not to take this step on the grounds that it could further de-stabilize the region and kill all future prospects for a negotiated settlement between Israel and Palestine.
Is an EU-OIC meet possible?
As many prominent European countries have a similar position on the status of Jerusalem, Turkey has been seeking to create a united front between the OIC and the EU through a summit that would bring the two sides together in Istanbul.
An EU-OIC foreign ministerial summit had taken place in early 2002 in a bid to highlight peace and harmony between the Islamic and Christian worlds after the attack by al-Qaeda against the U.S. on Sep. 11, 2001.
Although many of the EU countries criticized the U.S. move on Jerusalem and voted to condemn this decision at the U.N. General Assembly, there is no unanimity at the EU Council on the issue, which makes an institutional gathering between the two organizations in the 2002 format difficult.