By: Hamada Al-Kohli
Al-Azhar Al Sharif has held, last Wednesday, a two-day International conference in Support of Jerusalem. The conference held under the patronage of President Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi, is being organized in collaboration with the Muslim Council of Elders. It came in the context of historical positions rejecting the American decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The conference attracts considerable global attention, as it witnessing the participation of senior officials from 86 countries. What does this conference mean?
- First of all, Egypt is the most important country in the Arab world and the oldest in the region, therefore its official and non-official positions regarding the Palestinian issue or the other issues are heavily monitored by the US Administration as well as the Israeli government.
- The conference reaffirms the relationship between Egypt and Palestine as an organic and complementary relationship since time immemorial. This relation is linked to politics, geography, and Arab national security.
- Egypt values its relationship with the United States of America. However, it continues to support the Palestinian issue as a red line that Egypt does not agree to negotiate about. Meanwhile, the conference is a clear step reflects the Egyptian stand rejecting the American decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist entity and that the Egyptian moves made in the international organizations as well as through contacts with various countries have not been a temporary reaction or a temporary uprising, but rather a solid position.
- Holding the conference under the patronage of President of Egypt clearly means that the movements of Al-Azhar in this important part is not only the expression of this world's important institution, but also reflects the official view of the Egyptian state. Additionally, the presidency holds periodic coordination with Al-Azhar in this regard.
- The participation of Arab delegations as well as Ahmed AboulGheit, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, clearly affirms the importance of this conference and the support of the Arab world for that step might influence the decision-maker.
- The presence of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the conference increases its importance and stresses the official role of Al-Azhar in supporting the issue of Jerusalem and increases the importance and impact of the conference.
- The participation of Pope Tawadros II in the international conference reaffirms the unity of the Egyptian position in both political and religious affiliations rejecting US President Donald Trump decision and recent developments in Jerusalem.
- The presence of Jewish rabbis from the United States and an Israeli rabbi, who arrived directly from Tel Aviv to Cairo, in the conference has a positive impact on the the conference's outcome considering that the position rejecting the American decision is not only Islamic, but also there are Jewish figures also rejecting it.
- Although organizing the conference was announced days after the American decision on Jerusalem, but the two-day conference came before the arrival of US Vice President Mike Bens to Cairo to confirm that Egypt's stand on this issue is not changable. As the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Ahmed Al Tayyeb and Pope Tawadros hadrejected to receive Bens. In this regard, Dr. Al Tayyeb said: "Al-Azhar cannot sit with those who falsify history and steal the rights of people".
- The conference will activate the Arab memory and raise awareness about the issue of Jerusalem and emphasising its Arab and Islamic identity.
- The United States and Israel are awaiting the great results of the conference. This was highlighted by the American and Israeli media coverage of the news related to it. Besides, Isreal has prevented the Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestinian religious leaders from attending the conference.
- While the world is calling Al-Azhar for contributing to the reduction of extremism and extremist ideas, Al-Azhar stressed today that the Israeli aggression, occupation, killing, the Judaization of Jerusalem, annexing the Palestinian territories and not granting the Palestinians the right to self-determination are of the main reasons for the increasing terrorism in the region.
- The sponsorship of the conference by President El-Sisi is a reaffirmation of Egypt's absolute rejection of what is being promoted on what is called "Deal of the Century".
The irreplaceable role of Egypt
The history of Egypt in the Palestinian issue is too long in a way the lines or the pages cannot list. As Egypt began to intervene on this issue in the second decade of the last century after the launch of the Balfour Declaration, then the participation in the war of 1948 after the end of the British Mandate for Palestine and the declaration of the State of Israel by Zionist gangs on the areas under its control in Palestine. The Egyptian forces were the first Arab armies attacking the settlements of KfarDarom and Nirim in the Negev, and the forces also entered Ashdod area.
In addition, our forces also participated strongly in the fighting on areas of "Faluja - Beit Jibrin - Deiran Nahas," and complete the isolation of Israeli colonies in the Negev. Egyptian officers and soldiers participated in the war, including the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.
In 1956, while most of the Arab countries were far from the danger of Israel and Egypt was preparing for its important role after the 1952 revolution, Israel saw Egypt as the real obstacle in the way of its ambitions and participated in the tripartite aggression with both England and France.
Israel sought to undermine Egypt which was led by a president with nationalist goals and policies (Nasser), so it occupied Sinai in 1967. Despite the setback and occupation of Sinai and Gaza Strip, Egypt approved the decision of the Palestine Liberation Organization to establish the Palestine Liberation Army under the auspices of Egypt. Then, the 1973 war took place to restore the dignity of the Arabs.
The Egyptian support for the Palestinian issue has not stopped over the past decades. The former President Hosni Mubarak tried to back initiatives and proposals for peace with the aim of establishing a Palestinian state until the events of the so-called "Arab Spring". The incidents of the Arab revolutions were severely affected the Palestinian issue.
With the deterioration of the situation in Egypt after 2011, Egypt did not ignore the Palestinian issue, where attempts were carried out to stop the conflict. Egypt also played a vital role in liberating a large number of Palestinian prisoners under the so-called "Shalit deal".
The Palestinian issue was also severely affected by the arrival of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) to rule Egypt for reasons related to the group's desire to strengthen the division to serve its objectives of establishing a MB's state in Gaza extending to Egyptian territory via Sinai. However, this did not last long after the outbreak of 30 June 2013 revolution. Egypt begin the stage of taming Hamas and jihadist groups in Gaza and then the stage of ending the Palestinian division and the signing of reconciliation. In the current stage, Egypt is standing strongly against the American decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.