Turkish President Erdogan called the extraordinary meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in order to seek unity in the international Muslim community, also known as the “Ummah”, following Trump’s provocative recognition of the entirety of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. At the time, the American President defended his ultra-controversial move as being a necessary step towards peace, and while this was widely derided at the time as a shameless and insincere statement, it might turn out to have inadvertently been true, albeit not at all like how Trump may have intended it.
By doing what he did, Trump compelled the OIC to respond by reaffirming many of its members’ existing positions in recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine, which implies the existence of a West Jerusalem that could potentially be the capital of Israel following its formal recognition by the Ummah after a peace settlement is eventually reached. This holds remarkable implications because it creates the conditions for moving the peace process forward, as all of the OIC’s member states just agreed to acknowledge the pre-1967 division of Jerusalem prior to Israel’s full and illegal occupation of its entirety.
One of the OIC’s most important participants, the post-revolutionary Islamic Republic of Iran, doesn’t even recognize the pre-1967 legitimacy of Israel, which to remind the reader was founded by “Weapons of Mass Migration” that flooded into Palestine after World War II. Nor, for that matter, did any of the other OIC states who don’t presently have any official relations with Israel, though it’s just that Iran has made this a mainstay of its regional policy and a cornerstone of its reputation as one of the leaders of the “Resistance Bloc”. Now, though, Tehran and others are de-facto accepting the post-1947 partition of Palestine and subsequent creation of Israel.
This tacit understanding is considered to be a crucial prerequisite for advancing any two-state solution between Palestine and Israel, and it ironically wouldn’t have been possible for the Ummah to unite around the issue of East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital (and importantly not the whole city as such) had Trump not prompted them to do so by his incendiary move in recognizing the entirety of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Even in the unlikely possibility that this was part of a “master plan” by the US to restart the peace process, which it doesn’t seem to have genuinely been in any case, it’s certainly not unfolding as Washington may have wanted.
The OIC also declared in its joint statement that the US is no longer welcome to participate in negotiations over the two-state solution unless Trump reverses his decision, which isn’t likely given his personal predisposition and disinclination to publicly appear as though he’s backing down over anything, let alone a demand issued by a group of Muslim countries. That, however, opens up an historic window of opportunity for Russia to step in and take the role in leading this process instead, seeing as how it enjoys excellent relations with both Israel and the Ummah.
It also shouldn’t be forgotten that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared in April of this year that it will recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital so long as East Jerusalem is made the capital of a future Palestinian state. Seeing as how the OIC implicitly agreed to this through its joint statement without directly saying as much, the door is now open for Russia to replace the lost American role in leading the two-state solution by “balancing” between both competing parties and helping to breathe new life into this stalled process.
No one should assume that it’ll be easy, and there are still many issues that still need to be worked out such as the status of the illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine, but nevertheless, as paradoxical as it may sound, the seemingly impending disaster that Trump’s recognition of all of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was expected to be is instead interestingly shaping out to have been an unforeseen chance for Russia to exert its newfound Mideast leadership in trying its hand at solving this previously intractable conflict.
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