CAIRO – 15 January 2018: Egypt's Al-Azhar will hold an international conference in Cairo on Wednesday for backing Jerusalem as the main capital of occupied Palestine, under the auspices of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
The two-day conference adopts the motto of "World Conference in Support of Jerusalem", and witnesses the participation of prominent national, regional and international figures such as Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayyeb, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark Tawadros II, Arab Parliament chief Meshaal bin Fahm al-Salmi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Jerusalem has always been a top priority issue to Azhar, especially after the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital; the decision which has been condemned and rejected by all Arab and Muslim countries; in addition to other western, Asian and African countries across the world.
Azhar is expected to issue the following recommendations at the final session of the conference on Thursday:
Anticipated recommendations on Jerusalem
• Stress on Palestinians' right of an independent state, with Jerusalem as its capital.
• Preserve Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.
• Declare the curricula that Azhar has prepared to raise up the young generations to know about the importance of Jerusalem's history, holiness and developments.
• Call on Arab and Muslim governments and organizations to fulfill their duties towards Jerusalem and Palestine through taking the legal and political procedures needed to annul the American announcement over Jerusalem.
• Make Jerusalem as the main theme of Fridays' sermons at least once every month under the supervision of religious endowments ministries in Arab countries.
• Publish guidance books to correct the false information and mistaken image about Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
• Stress that the international law enjoins the occupiers to keep de facto statuses.
• Refute Zionist claims about Jerusalem and the Palestinian issue via holding conferences and raising awareness on different social network platforms to affirm the importance of the Palestinian cause and the maintenance of the legal status of Jerusalem.
• Call on media outlets, NGOs and cultural institutions to play their role in raising people's awareness about Jerusalem at the legal, cultural and historical levels.
• Warn against the Zionist encroachments upon Jerusalem and support the Palestinian people
Regional and International participants
Arab Parliament chief Meshaal bin Fahm al-Salmi announced that he will participate in Al-Azhar's conference, upon an invitation from Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb who heads the Council of Senior Scholars of Al-Azhar.
Salmi said in a press statement released Monday that in the opening session of the conference he will stress on the importance of increasing inter-Arab cooperation, and increasing the Arab and Islamic support of Jerusalem.
Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Youssef al-Othaimeen announced in a press release on Sunday that he will take part in Al-Azhar's conference during his three-day visit to Egypt.
Palestinian women shout slogans against the U.S. intention to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in Gaza City. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Othaimeen added that he will hold talks with Egyptian President Sisi, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Arab League Chief Ahmed Abul Gheit and Al-Azhar Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb.
Pope Tawadros II revealed that Egypt's churches will not hold any meetings with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who is scheduled to visit Egypt on January 20, stressing that Copts take care of their own issues.
American decision over Jerusalem
On December 6, U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by announcing the relocation of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This decision was condemned and rejected by all Arab and Islamic countries, as well as most Western and Asian countries.
Egyptian Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa (C), walks out of Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock mosque during his visit to the Al-Aqsa mosques compound, Islam's third holiest site, on 18 April 2012
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets to denounce the American decision on Jerusalem in different cities across the world.
On December 21, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution condemning Trump’s decision and called on states not to move their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem.
Reactions to U.S decision
"About 93 percent of Egyptians rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to transfer the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem," Magued Osman, director of the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research Baseera, stated in a press conference held on Saturday at the Syndicate of Journalists headquarters in Cairo.
Osman added that the centre has asked the Egyptian people about their opinion on whether they see the U.S. as a friendly or hostile country three times; the first was in May 2015, the second was in July 2016 and the third was in August 2017. Statistics revealed that 62 percent of Egyptians believe that America is an anti-peace nation.
After U.S. President Donald Trump had declared the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Egypt’s Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb announced his refusal to meet with the U.S. VP on December 8.
On January 5, Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, took part in the meetings of the Six-Party Committee on Jerusalem along with his Arab counterparts from Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in addition to the Arab League’s Secretary-General.
“This is the first meeting for the Six-Party Committee on Jerusalem since it was formed upon the Arab League’s urgent summit for Arab Foreign Ministers on December 9,” said Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid in a statement on January 5.
Egyptian schools discuss Jerusalem history Thursday 7 December 2017, following Trump’s declaration of the religious city as Israel’s official capital – Press photo
Egypt's Ministry of Education instructed all Education directorates on January 2, to omit the word "Jerusalem" in Hebrew, Yerushalayim, from the book, “Alf Akhtraa W Akhtraa” (A thousand invention and invention). The Arabic translation of Jerusalem, Al-Quds, is still in the curricula.
Egypt said that the Arab countries were considering taking the Arab draft resolution on maintaining the status of Jerusalem to the United Nations General Assembly after the U.S. vetoed the resolution at the Security Council.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Jerusalem was the “eternal capital of the State of Palestine” and that Trump’s move was “tantamount to the United States abdicating its role as a peace mediator.”
Israel seized control of the Eastern part of the city in the six-Day War in 1967 and annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, a move that has never been recognized by the international community. The Palestinians have long demanded the occupied East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state.
Peace negotiations between the Palestinian authorities and Israel have lasted for more than two decades based on the 1993 Oslo accords; it has been stalled since 2014.
In recent years, Israel has intensified the construction of hundreds of illegal Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, thus creating new demographics that weaken the ability of the Palestinians to build a geographically contiguous state.