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Jerusalem is the '2016 Islamic Tourism Capital'

PA official says Organization of Islamic Cooperation selected Jerusalem in international forum to 'break Israel's siege.'
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 6/6/2014, 10:08 AM

Arab protesters on Temple Mount (file)
Arab protesters on Temple Mount (file)
Flash 90

A Palestinian Authority (PA) official said Thursday that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) chose Jerusalem as the "capital of Islamic tourism" for 2016.

The first OIC International Forum on Islamic Tourism was held in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta this Monday and Tuesday.

According to PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Habbash, the Forum decided on Jerusalem as a means of "breaking Israel's siege" of the 3,000-year-old Jewish capital, reports the Arab Ma'an News Agency.

It is worth noting that on official PA TV in January, Habbash called for jihad terrorism to be directed against Jerusalem instead of Syria.

Habbash claimed that regardless of the Jewish presence in the Israeli capital, "Jerusalem is the religious and political capital of Palestine." He added his hopes that Arab and Islamic delegates would visit Jerusalem.

The PA and Hamas have been divided over the issue of Muslims visiting Jerusalem. Muslim leaders in Jordan issued a "fatwa" (religious edict) on April 30, ending a ban on visits to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque despite it being "under Israeli occupation."

According to the ruling, "Palestinians...regardless of their nationalities" and "Muslims with passports from countries outside the Muslim World" could visit Jerusalem, as long as they didn't financially aid the "occupation."

Hamas rejected the ruling, saying it gives the appearance of recognizing the rule of the "occupation," and constitutes a de facto normalization with Israel. The terrorist organization called on Muslims not to visit Jerusalem.

Not all Muslims agree with the claims that Jerusalem is the "capital of Palestine." Jordanian Islamic scholar Sheikh Ahmad Adwan pointed out in March that "the direction of prayer of the Muslim people is to Mecca, and the direction of Jewish prayer is to Jerusalem. ...According to our faith, Allah promised Israel to the Jewish people, and they are the sole official inheritors of that land."

Similarly, Adwan said in February "there is no such thing as 'Palestine' in the Koran. Your demand for the Land of Israel is a falsehood and it constitutes an attack on the Koran, on the Jews and their land. Therefore you won’t succeed, and Allah will fail you and humiliate you, because Allah is the one who will protect them (i.e. the Jews)."