Egypt's Coptic Church, Al-Azhar warn of dangerous consequences of US recognizing Jerusalem as Israel capital

Ahram Online , Wednesday 6 Dec 2017

Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar (L) and Coptic Pope Tawadros II, head of Coptic Orthodox church (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church and Al-Azhar issued statements warning of the serious potential consequences of US President Donald Trump's proposed plan to recognize Jersualem as Israel's capital and to relocate the US embassy there.

President Trump is set to offically recognize the city as Israel's capital on Wednesday and to announce a plan to move the US embassy there from its current location in Tel Aviv. A senior administration official said Trump would make the controversial announcement at 1 pm (1800 GMT) from the White House.

The spokesman of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church warned in a statement on Wednesday of "dangerous consequences" of the proposed shift as world leaders awaited the announcement from the White House.

"The expected move contradicts international legitimacy and resolutions on Jerusalem," the statement on Wednesday added.

The church also called for maintaining the legal status of Jerusalem within the framework of international law and relevant UN resolutions.

The Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church administers seven Coptic churches in Jerusalem which minister to more than 10,000 Coptic Orthodox Christian Palestinians, according to figures from The Palestinian Information Center.

The Coptic Church affirmed its support for the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis, calling for negotiations to achieve a just resolution that preserves the historic status of the city.

Meanwhile, Egypt's Al-Azhar, the highest institution of Sunni Islamic learning in the world, also warned against the consequences of the proposed US plan.

Al-Azhar said that the potential move would constitute “a threat to world peace and fuel anger among Muslims all over the world."

The Old City of Jerusalem is home to Islam's third holiest site, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock shrine.

Egypt's religious institutions were not alone in condemning the proposed move.

On Tuesday evening, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi emphasized to Trump in a phone call Egypt's firm position "that Jerusalem should maintain its legal status," and urged against "complicating the situation in the region by introducing measures that would undermine chances for peace in the Middle East," according to a statement by the presidential office.

Israel has occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed East Jerusalem in a move that is considered illegal by the international community.

Israel claims the entire city as its "undivided capital," while the Palestinians seek the eastern part of the city for the capital of their future state.

The Arab League Council also passed a resolution on Tuesday warning that recognising Jerusalem as the Israeli capital or establishing any diplomatic mission in the city would be a "blatant assault" on Arab nations as well as both Muslim and Christian Palestinians.

The council also called on the US and all nations to commit to existing international resolutions on Jerusalem, describing any move to recognise Jerusalem as a capital for Israel as a "dangerous violation" of UN Security Council resolutions.

Trump's proposed move comes following promises made on the campaign trail. In March 2016, Trump promised in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, which he called the "eternal capital of the Jewish people."

In recent years, Israel has intensified the construction of illegal Jewish settlements in occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank in an attempt to consolidate its control over the territories.

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