10 July 2019

The world’s largest Islamic grouping has strongly condemned the opening of an Israeli tunnel south of East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Israeli officials opened the tunnel last Sunday under the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem, with the attendance of U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said the tunnel opening “aims at changing the historical and legal status of the city of Jerusalem”.

“These actions are in violation of international law and relevant resolutions of international legitimacy,” the Jeddah-based organization said.

Jordan also condemned the move, warning against such irresponsible acts and violations that increase tensions.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Sufian Qudah reiterated the Kingdom’s absolute rejection of any alteration of the identity of the Old City, especially Al Haram Al Sharif, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

The move is a breach of international law and international humanitarian law as well as the UNESCO resolutions calling for a halt to all illegal Israeli digging in Jerusalem’s Old City, which contradict the international legal standards, the ministry added.

Qudah also called on the international community to fully uphold its legal and political responsibilities to stop rejected practices, stressing the need for respecting the status of East Jerusalem as an occupied Palestinian territory since 1967, which makes it subject to international law and legitimacy resolutions.

Egypt’s Mufti Shawqi Allam also aired his frustrations on the move.

In a statement released last Tuesday, Allam denounced all schemes carried out by the Israeli occupation forces to change the identity of Jerusalem and the mosque, Muslims’ third holiest shrine.

He warned of the serious consequences that will result from the continued illegal Israeli excavations in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem.

US officials attended the opening, organised by an Israeli settler-linked group in East Jerusalem on Sunday, their latest move breaking with precedent and angering Palestinians, AFP reported.

White House Adviser Jason Greenblatt and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman were among the US officials present at the event.

Greenblatt and Friedman, who gave a speech at the ceremony organised by the City of David Foundation, dismissed accusations it was a further acknowledgement of Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem, according to AFP.

The Palestinian foreign ministry condemned “in the strongest terms the colonialist plans to replace the existing reality in occupied Jerusalem and the environs of the Old City”, according to the news agency.

Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat slammed the participation of White House advisor Jason Greenblatt and US ambassador to Israel David Friedman at the tunnel inauguration ceremony as an “additional insult to international law.”

“The truth is they are settlers trying very hard to implement the settlers council plan. Annexation. To all who attended Manama conference . These settlers are destroying peace . Listen to what the Israelis who want peace say about Friedman and Greenblatt,” Erekat tweeted.

The PLO official said that Friedman was “not a US ambassador”, but rather “an extremist Israeli settler.”

“I hope all the world , including Americans, can see this. That is not a U S Ambassador, that is an extremist Israeli settler , with Greenblatt, also there, digging underneath Silwan, a Palestinian town,” he said in a follow-up tweet.

“We should show this to all who participated in Manama,” referring to the recent US-led economic workshop in Bahrain’s capital, Manama.

“This is not making history. It is a day of infamy and disgrace in the history of American diplomacy. One day the US will say that Friedman and Greenblatt were not American diplomats, they were extremist fanatic Israeli settlers who did a lot of damage to US interests and image,” he said in a follow up tweet.

The PLO senior official accused Greenblatt of working with Friedman to promote “prosperity” for Israeli settlers.

“Greenblatt and Friedman are advancing prosperity for the settlers, for a racist colonial settlement enterprise. Today they’ll once again insult international law by blessing a project of settlers that has dispossessed dozens of Palestinian families nearby Al Aqsa Mosque compound,” Erekat tweeted.

Erekat called upon all Arabs and Muslims leaders to call President Trump and condemn with the strongest possible terms the provocations of Greenblatt and Friedman, and the threats their actions entail to Palestinians, and Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem .

He noted that in the span of 64 weeks, Israel killed 310 Palestinians, including 44 children, two women, nine people with special needs, two journalists and four paramedics

SOURCE: Agencies