Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the chief of the Council of Senior Muslim Scholars, said Wednesday, that Al-Azhar held 11 conferences since 1948 serving the Palestinian issue and Jerusalem, calling for considering 2018 to be the year for Jerusalem.
During his speech at Al-Azhar’s conference for supporting Jerusalem, Al-Tayeb added that the conferences come as part of Egyptian efforts in defending the Palestinian issue and Jerusalem. He added that Al-Azhar’s conferences expressed rejection of the abuses against Islamic and Christian holy places, calling upon the Palestinian people to continue struggling against occupation.
The conference comes in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision in November to declare his country’s recognition of Jerusalem the capital of Israel, ordering his secretary of state to take all necessary preparations for moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.
Al-Tayeb expressed his desire for the conference to result in real outcomes in facing plots on Jerusalem and reviving awareness on the Palestinian issue. He also denounced that there are no educational curricula that explain dangers and threats associated with the issue.
In his speech, Pope Tawadros II, the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, said that Jerusalem has a place in the hearts of Christians, as it is the place where Jesus Christ lived and performed his miracles.
The pope said that he is looking for peace between the peoples of the region, pointing to the efforts of former pope Cyril VI in preserving Jerusalem, as well as former pope Shenouda III’s efforts. Tawadros stressed the stance of the church in rejecting Trump’s decision.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stressed at the conference that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine. He thanked Egypt and Al-Azhar for organising the conference, which he said comes amid a big plot targeting Jerusalem since the Balfour declaration.
Abbas described Trump’s decision as the “last sin” that came in contrast to all international law, adding that the United Nations considers it null and void. He also said that he could no longer trust the US administration as a mediator in negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.
He further added that visiting Jerusalem does not entail normalising relations [with Israel], calling upon everyone to visit the city which he said was for all Muslims, Christians, and Jews.
Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul-Gheit called on gathering financial resources for supporting Jerusalem, saying that the city is not merely a place, but a symbol. He also rejected Trump’s decision.