Pope calls for preserving status quo in Jerusalem

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During his annual meeting with the diplomatic corps accredited to Vatican City on Monday, Pope Francis expressed concern about the rise in violence in Jerusalem…reports Asian Lite News

Pope Francis has called for the preservation of the historical and legal status quo in Jerusalem, the Palestinian News and Information Agency has reported.

Pope’s call follows escalating Israeli activity in occupied Jerusalem, most notably a “provocative” visit by Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to the mosque compound on Tuesday.

During his annual meeting with the diplomatic corps accredited to Vatican City on Monday, Pope Francis expressed concern about the rise in violence in Jerusalem, the Arab News reported.

He said that Jerusalem belongs to the three monotheistic religions — Islam, Judaism and Christianity — and noted that it should be a forum for peace rather than a theater of conflict, it was reported.

Pope Francis also hoped that the Palestinian and Israeli sides would resume direct talks to realise the two-state vision, in line with international law and relevant UN resolutions.

Palestine’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Issa Kassissieh, conveyed President Mahmoud Abbas’ greetings to the pope during the meeting, and urged him to continue praying for justice and peace in Jerusalem, as well as the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, it was reported.

Meanwhile, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation is holding an extraordinary open-ended meeting of its Executive Committee in Jeddah to discuss Israeli attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem.

The OIC General Secretariat strongly condemned the visit on Tuesday, calling it “a provocation of Muslim sentiments and a flagrant violation of relevant international resolutions.”

Meanwhile, experts have said that the controversial visit of Israeli Minister to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem, which has sparked wide condemnation and criticism from the Arab world, might have limited negative impact on Israel’s ties with Arab countries.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman of the Palestinian presidency, on Tuesday slammed the visit as “a challenge to the Palestinian people, the Arab nation, and the international community,” warning that these provocations against sanctities will lead to more tension, violence and explosive conditions.

A rocket was launched toward Israel from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening, but later fell within the strip.

Jordan summoned the Israeli ambassador and delivered a strongly-worded protest message. Other Arab countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Oman and Libya, as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council, all condemned Ben-Gvir’s behavior.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the most sacred place, is regarded by Muslims as their third holiest site. It has been administered by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a Jordanian body, since 1948. Under a 1967 agreement between Israel and Jordan, non-Muslim worshippers can visit the compound but are prohibited from praying there.

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