A file photo of Al-Azhar headquarters in Cairo (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Egypt's Al-Azhar and its Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayyeb expressed absolute rejection of Israeli plans -- which rely on the policy of imposing a fait accompli -- to annex parts of Palestine's occupied West Bank, a statement by the religious institution said on Thursday.
"Israel’s expansionist policy constitutes a threat to the regional peace, and a serious violation of international laws and conventions," the statement of the world's foremost institution of Sunni Islamic learning said, adding that the "Zionist occupier entity's annexation scheme represents a blatant violation" of the rights and lands of the oppressed Palestinian people.
Earlier in May, Israel announced that it will launch a cabinet debate on annexing parts of the occupied West Bank under a US-plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace as of 1 July, but no discussions were scheduled for Wednesday in the absence of an agreement with Washington on the modalities of the move.
The Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, has rejected the move as a violation of Israel’s commitments to a mutually negotiated peaceful settlement to the Israeli occupation under the 1993 Oslo Accords.
"As usual, the Zionist occupier takes advantage of the preoccupation of the international community with the coronavirus pandemic to carry out its blatant abuses towards the occupied Palestinian territories," Al-Azhar statement added.
Al-Azhar urged the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to hold urgent meetings to stand firmly against the Israeli annexation scheme.
Al-Azhar's rejection of Israel's unilateral measures on the West Bank annexation scheme came hours after Israeli officials said a plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, which has drawn global condemnation, was delayed on Wednesday.
Israeli cabinet minister Ofir Akunis said the annexation process would not begin on Wednesday, adding that officials were still working on the final details with their US counterparts.
Akunis said he expected the annexation to take place later in July, according to AP.