Al-Azhar (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Egypt's Al-Azhar – the world's foremost institution of Sunni Islamic learning – is holding an international conference on Wednesday that will be attended by officials from 86 countries to discuss the issue of Jerusalem.
The conference, which will be held on 17 and 18 January at Al-Azhar Conference Centre in Cairo, will highlight a number of issues including “raising awareness about the issue of Jerusalem and emphasising its Arab and Islamic identity,” according to a statement by Al-Azhar.
The event, which comes under the auspices of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, will be held nearly one month after a decision by US President Donald Trump decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The conference will be attended by the head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as the heads of Arab Islamic and Christian organisations.
The conference will tackle three main themes; affirming Jerusalem’s Arab status, raising awareness about the Jerusalem issue, and highlighting the international community's responsibility regarding the holy city.
The event, which will be led by Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb, is expected to conclude with several recommendations that support the Palestinian cause and stress the rights of Palestinians to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.
“The conference will also discuss preserving Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem in addition to a number of measures and decisions that will educate young people about the issue of Jerusalem, its history and its holy sites,” the statement added.
Following Trump's decision on Jerusalem, which sparked protests in several Arab countries, Egypt presented a draft resolution to the Security Council on behalf of Arab countries that would have required the US to reverse its decision.
The resolution was vetoed by the US, though it gained support from all 14 other members of the Security Council, including key US allies Britain, France, Italy, Japan and Ukraine.
A total of 128 countries later voted in the UN General Assembly in favour of a resolution condemning Trump's decision and calling on the US to reverse the move.
Egypt has consistently maintained its full support for a two-state solution along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.