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Clerics launch 'Jerusalem Capital of the World' campaign

Jan. 6, 2016 4:49 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 6, 2016 4:49 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Muslim and Christian religious clerics and officials on Tuesday launched a campaign aimed at bolstering Muslim and Christian claims over occupied East Jerusalem.

It is hoped the campaign, titled "Jerusalem Capital of the World 2016," will raise international awareness of Palestinian Muslim and Christian heritage in the occupied city, and also "annul" Israeli claims that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of the state of Israel.

The announcement was made by the clerics during a news conference at the Palestinian National Theatre (al-Hakawati) in Jerusalem.

Among the speakers at the conference were President of the Supreme Islamic Council Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, Archbishop of Sebastia from the Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem Atallah Hanna, and former Palestinian Authority Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Hatim Abd al-Qadir.

Speakers at the conference said the campaign would also aim to strengthen values of tolerance between Muslim and Christians.

"Let the year 2016 be an international year of solidarity with Jerusalem. We are one nation on this land, which we all love and give sacrifices for," said Sheikh Sabri.

"The connection between Muslims and Christians on this land is based on justice, love and tolerance and rejection to any aspect of injustice and aggression."

The campaign will also attempt to draw attention to "the ongoing suffering the Israeli occupation is causing to the Arab population of Jerusalem," the group said in the statement, including "murder, destruction and displacement against the indigenous residents of the city."

Archbishop Hanna said during the conference: "We express solidarity with every oppressed person in the world, as injustice practiced by humans to their brothers in humanity can never be justified no matter what the pretexts are."

Hatim Abd al-Qadir meanwhile urged Arab and Muslim countries to support Jerusalem to their full ability, in light of ongoing violations by Israeli authorities aimed at establishing a Jewish majority in the occupied eastern half of the city.

Palestinians have long aimed for an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital, but Israel has maintained an military occupation there since 1967, in contravention of international law.

The Israeli government has since implemented policies to "Judaize" East Jerusalem, limiting Palestinian growth while increasing the Jewish population.
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