By Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Ambassadors from Islamic countries that are accredited to the African Union met on Wednesday to rally support for a high-level gathering of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The meeting was held in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa under the auspices of the Turkish Embassy.
“We have one agenda item: the recent unfortunate development regarding Jerusalem,” Turkish Ambassador to Ethiopia and representative to the African Union Fatih Ulusoy said.
Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his decision -- despite widespread opposition -- to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate Washington's embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.
The African Union, of which Palestine has an observer status, and Arab League have already condemned the Trump’s decision.
“Jerusalem is the reason due to which the OIC was established,” Ulusoy said, adding that a “very strong decision” is expected from the meeting of the bloc in Istanbul.
The OIC is the second-largest inter-governmental body after the United Nations, and its 57 member states spread over four continents.
It was established during a historic summit in Rabat, Morocco in 1969 following an arson attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.
Day of Solidarity for Palestinian People
Al-Aqsa was set on fire by an Australian Christian called Michael Denis Rohan on Aug. 21, 1969. The shrine and a 1,000-year-old pulpit were totally destroyed as well as several historical sites.
Rohan had joined a U.S.-based sect called “The Church of God” and believed that setting fire to Al-Aqsa would hasten the coming of the Messiah.
He was later declared mentally unstable and is reported to have died in psychiatric care in 1995.
On Tuesday, a day of solidarity for the Palestinian people was observed under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in which the flag of Palestine was raised.
Jerusalem remains at the core of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- now occupied by Israel -- might eventually serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Israel first occupied the Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during the 1967 Middle East War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Jewish state -- a move never recognized by the international community.
International law continues to view the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories” and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity on the land as illegal.