Ex-mufti forbids Jerusalem’s ‘internationalization’
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Ex-mufti forbids Jerusalem’s ‘internationalization’

In fatwa, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri decrees it is a ‘sin’ to allow foreign governments or ‘Judaization’ in the city

Elhanan Miller
Avi Issacharoff
Sheikh Ekrima Sabri. (AP/Joao Silva)
Sheikh Ekrima Sabri. (AP/Joao Silva)

A leading Palestinian cleric has issued a religious edict forbidding the “internationalization” and “Judaization” of Jerusalem.

In a fatwa — or Muslim religious ruling — Jerusalem’s former Palestinian Authority-appointed mufti, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, wrote that “the internationalization and Judaization of Jerusalem is forbidden and unlawful under Islamic law. It is a sin to assist in the internationalization or Judaization of this city.”

After explaining the importance of Jerusalem as the third-holiest city in Islam, and referencing a similar decree he issued in July 2009, Sabri condemned “those who [would] withdraw from Jerusalem” as people who “withdraw from the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is the crown of Jerusalem.”

International agreements “to protect Al-Aqsa” are permissible, Sabri wrote, as long as they do not include the United Nations.

“If an agreement is signed between Arab and Islamic states only to protect Al-Aqsa, there’s nothing wrong with that. This is their duty, as long as the agreement does not internationalize or Judaize, and as long as the UN is not involved.”

Sabri currently holds no official position in the Palestinian Authority, but was a former appointee of the PA’s founding chairman, Yasser Arafat.

Israel recently rejected a Jordanian proposal that would have seen the Hashemite Kingdom begin to oversee visits to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem instead of Israel, Arab sources told The Times of Israel on Monday.

During recent meetings between officials in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Jordanian government, the latter proposed giving the Jordanian-run Muslim Waqf control over entry to the contested holy site — as it had until the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000. Since then Israel has effectively exerted control over entrance to the Temple Mount complex, which is considered Judaism’s holiest site.

The Jordanian proposal was aimed at calming tensions over the compound, which has been the focal point of violent Palestinian unrest in the past month. The current outbreak of violence has been fueled by rumors that Israel is plotting to take over the area, where Jews can currently visit but not pray. Israel has adamantly denied the allegations, saying it has no plans to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, and has accused the Palestinians of incitement by spreading the rumors.

According to a report in a Kuwaiti Arabic-language paper on Monday, Israeli officials proposed in a clandestine meeting with PA security officials that Palestinian plainclothes police officers be stationed on the Temple Mount. The meeting reportedly took place in Ramallah last Saturday.

Undercover Palestinian police had been stationed on the Temple Mount in a similar fashion before the outbreak of the Second Intifada.

Running counter to Jordan’s call to return management of the site to the 2000 status quo, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s office was also reportedly putting pressure on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to calm tensions with Israel without any changes to the control over the Temple Mount.

The Jordanian suggestion came as France submitted a United Nations proposal for an international presence on the Temple Mount, to ensure that the status quo is upheld. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday slammed the French proposal, and the Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned the French ambassador in Israel regarding the matter.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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