Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
September 30, 2000 | C, Delinda
On June 5, the same day as the Burger King Boycott announcement, President Clinton announced that he would hold an Israeli-Palestinian summit at Camp David in Maryland. Muslim leaders attending the Burger King press conference took the opportunity to read a statement urging Palestinian President Yasser Arafat not to make any concessions on Jerusalem. The statement was endorsed by the American Muslim Council (AMC); American Muslim Foundation (AMF); American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP); Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA); Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).

The sanctity of Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, is not open to negotiation at the Camp David summit, AMJ spokesman Khalid Turaani said. No individual or group has the right to sign away Islamic rights in the city, he asserted. The Muslim leaders also maintained that any agreement diminishing Muslim rights in Jerusalem or preventing refugees from returning to their homes in Palestine not only would be unworkable but, from an Islamic perspective, also would be null and void.
The Muslim leaders’ statement read as follows: “History shows that Muslim and Christian religious rights are not safe under an Israeli occupation. We only need to recall Israeli police shooting to death 17 Palestinian civilians who challenged Jewish extremists who sought to lay a `cornerstone’ at the holy sites in 1990 and the Israeli tunnel built near the foundations of the Haram ash-Sharif (`The Noble Sanctuary’). Since the start of the peace process in 1993, Israel has maintained a closure of Jerusalem, stifling free movement, economic development and freedom of worship for Palestinian Christians and Muslims from the West Bank. In addition, municipal policies designed by the Israeli occupation forces create conditions of such psychological and economic pressure that non-Jews are obliged to move away from the city.
“These were not isolated incidents, but are the result of an Apartheid-like ideology that seeks to erase all traces of Islam and Christianity in Jerusalem. As a result of this grave situation, the Muslim and Christian presence in Jerusalem is being systematically eroded.
“Given Israel’s track record, we believe that it is fundamentally inappropriate for President Clinton to pressure the Palestinians into any further compromise on Jerusalem. We call on President Clinton and on leaders of Muslim-majority countries to refrain from pressuring Yasser Arafat to act against the will of his own people. Arafat should not be induced to surrender the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes or to sign away Muslim rights in Jerusalem.
“No diplomatic sleight of hand will be sufficient to convince Muslims worldwide that they should give up one of their holiest sites to perpetual occupation and gradual elimination.”
The statement concludes, “We call on all people of faith to join in working to create a Jerusalem that symbolizes religious tolerance and dialogue, not hatred, exclusion and conflict.” –Delinda C. Hanley

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