Egypt's Al-Azhar Observatory for Combating Terrorism condemned on Sunday the plans of the "Zionist entity" to build 3,000 illegal settlement units on lands belonging to the Orthodox Church on the borders of Beit Safafa town in Jerusalem.
These construction plans threaten to besiege the occupied Palestinian city of Jerusalem and isolate it from its surroundings on the southern end, the observatory said in a statement.
"These malicious settlement plans represent a flagrant violation of the early Islamic-era 'Omar's Assurance' that guaranteed the preservation of Palestinian lands and the safeguarding of Christian churches," the observatory said.
Omar's Assurance (Al-Uhda Al-Umariya in Arabic) is a book of assurance written by the Islamic second Caliph Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (636 AD) to the people of Aelia, the Late Roman name for Jerusalem, assuring them the safety of their churches and their properties under Islamic rule.
The observatory of Al-Azhar - the world’s highest seat of Sunni Islamic learning - stressed in the statement that the "Zionist entity" is targeting everything Palestinian in order to alter demographic realities in Jerusalem for the benefit of the settlers.
It also rejected the "Zionist occupation's" policy of transgression against Palestinian holy sites, Islamic and Christian alike, the last act of which was a terrorist act involving the arson of the Church of the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem by a settler.
Al-Azhar has repeatedly denounced all Israeli transgressions against Palestinians in the occupied territories, including attacks on Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem.
In December, after an Israeli settler poured flammable liquid inside the Church of All Nations before setting it ablaze, Al-Azhar issued a statement condemning "in the strongest terms the cowardly terrorist attack."
The observatory called in its Sunday statement on the international community to address these Israeli settlement policies that violate international laws, and to provide protection for Palestinian holy sites.