Hanna Issa, secretary-general of the Palestinian Authority‘s Muslim-Christian Committee said that more than 95 percent of Jerusalem had already been “Judaized” by Israel, and that “Greater Jerusalem” would alter the city’s identity and importance to Christians and Muslims.

“Israel wants to establish its so-called ‘Greater Jerusalem’ on an area of 600sq km, which would mean the destruction of the city’s churches and mosques,” Issa said.

The warning came during the 9th International Conference on the Holy City of Jerusalem on Wednesday, which kicked off in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

Speaking at the event, Youssef Edies, Palestinian minister of religious endowments, described Jerusalem as “the birthplace of religions”.

“We must focus on Arab, Muslim and international efforts on resisting the fierce Western onslaught against the Holy Land,” he asserted.

Israel occupied and annexed East Jerusalem in the aftermath of the June 1967 War, in a move that was never recognised by the international community.

Last Saturday, a United Nations envoy accused Israel of trying to block him and other diplomats from a pre-Easter “Holy Fire” ritual in the packed Jerusalem church Christians revere as the burial site of Jesus.

Robert Serry, the UN’s peace envoy to the Middle East, said in a statement that Israeli security officers had stopped him and a group of Palestinian worshippers and diplomats in a procession near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, “claiming they had orders to that effect”.

Last month, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said church authorities had applied for around 600 permits for Palestinian Christians in Gaza to travel to Jerusalem to celebrate Easter, but none were granted.

Father Ibrahim Shomali, chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said: “We have to have free access to the Holy Land, free access to our holy places.”

(Aljazeera, PC, Social Media)





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