SINGAPORE — Reacting to the U.S. move last week to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Muslim-majority countries in Asia have joined fresh calls for wider recognition of an independent Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. Speaking in Istanbul on Wednesday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo told the 56 other members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation that the group “can serve as a motor” to persuade countries that have not recognized Palestine “to do so immediately.” The Palestinian mission to the United Nations lists 137 countries as recognizing Palestine. The level of recognition varies among those countries, as Palestine has not been granted full U.N. membership. Though some OIC members recognize Israel — including summit host Turkey — Asian countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Malaysia do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
JERUSALEM – Israel’s Government last week agreed to relax its 4-year long blockade on the Gaza Strip, but the fallout from the recent flotilla incident lingers. With Israeli-US relations somewhat-frayed of late, US President Barack Obama called the move “ a step in the right direction.” Israel has come under intense international criticism for the deaths of nine Turks onboard the Mavi Marmara, one of six boats that tried to breach the naval blockade on May 31 last. Former Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble is one of two foreign observers to a committee set up to look into the clash — but the body has been described as a diversion by critics such as Turkey, who want an international investigation.