Makkah - A Saudi-hosted Islamic summit on Saturday threw its support behind Palestinians ahead of a US-led peace plan suspected to be skewed in favour of Israel, as Muslim states rallied around Saudi Arabia over tensions in the Gulf.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) gathering was held a day after the Gulf summit, and the Arab League summit in Makkah in which leaders condemned Iran’s meddlesome behaviour in the region. The OIC summit denounced controversial US moves to transfer its embassy to occupied Jerusalem and recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The summit of the 57-member bloc, marked by the notable absence of Iranian and Turkish leaders, called for a “boycott” of countries that have opened diplomatic missions in the city.
Trump broke with decades of bipartisan policy to recognise occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017.
The OIC’s statement comes as Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner prepares to roll out economic aspects of his long-awaited Middle East peace plan at a conference in Bahrain later this month.
The plan, which has been heavily talked up by Trump and dubbed his “deal of the century”, has already been rejected by the Palestinians, who say the president’s policies have shown him to be overwhelmingly biased in favour of Israel.
The Palestinians see the eastern part of the disputed city as the capital of their future state.
Kushner, who was in occupied Jerusalem on Friday on the latest leg of a regional tour to sell the plan, had looked to an alliance with Saudi Arabia against Iran as a way to gain Arab support.
But Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz told leaders of the OIC countries gathered at the 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).”
The OIC also backed Saudi Arabia in escalating tensions in the Gulf, as King Salman warned that “terrorist” attacks in the Gulf region could imperil global energy supplies.
The remark came after sabotage attacks damaged four vessels, two of them Saudi oil tankers, off the UAE and twin Yemeni rebel drone attacks shut down a key Saudi oil pipeline. King Salman said on Saturday: “The drone attacks on Saudi oil pumping stations carried by groups supported by Iran do not only threaten the security of the kingdom and the Gulf but also threaten maritime safety and global oil supplies”.
In a tweet just before the start of the summit, the king vowed to confront “aggressive threats and subversive activities”.
“Undermining the security of the kingdom effectively undermines the security of the Arab and Islamic world,” said OIC Secretary General Yousuf Bin Ahmad Al Othaimeen, voicing solidarity that was shared by other members.
In back-to-back summits on Friday, Gulf and Arab allies threw their support behind Saudi Arabia, which drew accusations from Iran of “sowing division”.
The summits came after Trump’s hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton said Wednesday that Iranian naval mines were “almost certainly” responsible for the damage to the four ships off the UAE on May 12.
The findings of a five-nation inquiry into what happened have yet to be released.
Tehran dismissed Bolton’s accusation as “laughable” and accused him of pursuing “evil desires for chaos in the region”.