Al-Azhar, Orthodox Coptic Church warn US against changing Jerusalem status

Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s dominant religious institution, and the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt expressed grave concern on Tuesday over the United States’ plan to allocate the Holy City of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In a statement, Al-Azhar issued a strong warning against recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist entity, saying “Any declaration on this issue will inflame the feelings of anger among all Muslims, threaten global peace, and promote tension, division, and hatred across the world.”

Al-Azhar argued that there was a bias in favor of Israel which enabled criminal policies which violate human rights.

“Taking Israel’s side and preventing implementation of resolutions condemning Israeli acts against the people, land and holy places in Palestine have lost peoples’ confidence in the international community’s integrity.” Al-Azhar added that “this is one of the main reasons of [the spread of] terrorism across the world.”

Al-Azhar stated that the Arab and Palestinian identity of Jerusalem is not subject to change or tampering.

Further, UN charters oblige the occupying power not to change the situation on the ground and does not recognize any actions that violate these charters, the statement said.

Al-Azhar also called upon experienced individuals and international institutions, particularly the United Nations General Assembly, to confront this as a threat to international peace and security.

Meanwhile, the Coptic Orthodox Church similarly expressed severe concern over the Trump Administration’s intention to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saying it “contradicts all international legitimacy and resolutions on Jerusalem,” and will negatively affect the stability of the Middle East and across the world.

The Church said it was imperative to preserve the legal status of Jerusalem within the agreed framework of international law and UN resolutions.

“The Church stands with efforts that push peace forward, and supports negotiation as the best means to establish a just situation and comprehensive peace,” the Church’s statement read.

US President is expected to allocate Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, before moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem: a move that has been widely disapproved of and condemned by governments in the Middle East, European governments, and regional experts.

The move would break with decades of US policy, which state that the Holy City’s status must be determined through negotiations with Palestinians – who want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire city, as Israel is recognized as the occupying power.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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