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Rabbi: Insult to say Jerusalem 'illegally occupied'

Oct. 19, 2010 1:07 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 21, 2010 12:05 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The World Jewish Congress vice-president said it was an "insult to all of us to accuse us of illegally occupying [Jerusalem]," a statement issued Tuesday read.

Rabbi Marc Schneider's comments were made at the 8th Doha Conference of Inter-Faith Dialogue in Qatar, which opened on Tuesday and will be convening during the course of the week.

The statement said Schneider's remarks came in response to comments by chief Palestinian Authority Islamic judge Taysir At-Tamimi during the conference, telling conveners that Israel occupied Jerusalem and was "judaizing" the city.

"Jerusalem represents Jewish hopes and dreams. For millennia, we have prayed toward Jerusalem ... Jerusalem has always been the capital of the Jewish state, ancient or modern. It is therefore an insult to all of us to accuse us of illegally occupying the city," Schneider said.

He added: "At the same time, we respect that Jerusalem is a holy place for Christians and Muslims as well. We know that the status of Jerusalem is at the forefront of peace talks, but denying the other side's right to be here is wrong and counter-productive."

Israel illegally annexed East Jerusalem following the 1967 war, a move not recognized by the international community. According to the UN, East Jerusalem is considered under occupation.

The fate of the eastern part of the city has been a stumbling block in past negotiations and is considered a final status issue. The UN recently condemned Israel's settlement enterprise in East Jerusalem, citing that it was in violation of international law.

Meanwhile, the WJC vice president praised organizers of the inter-faith conference. ""This is what inter-religious dialogue is all about: winning the future, and not fighting the battles of the past."

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