Abbas at Doha conference
Abbas at Doha conferenceReuters

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday called on Muslims and Christians from all over the world to visit Jerusalem and to set aside the ban on normalization with Israel.

“It’s good to see brothers from Arab countries visiting Palestine and learning about its condition, because we really need them,” Abbas said, according to a report on Army Radio.

Abbas explained that the Koran and its literary interpretations do not contain any prohibition to visit Jerusalem, adding that “The Palestinian land is usurped every day, so we must stand side by side with our brothers from Arab countries, and thus prevent Israel from cancelling our existence and our identity.”

Egypt’s Grand Mufti, Ali Gomaa, came under fire last week following his visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The visit sparked uproar in Egypt, especially among political Islamists, who refuse to visit what they term “the Palestinian territories” as long as they are under the so-called “Israeli occupation.” Such visits, believe the Islamists, it would be counted as a kind of normalization with Israel.

Gomaa later defended his visit to Jerusalem, saying it was made in his personal capacity, not his official capacity as mufti or member of the Al-Azhar Islamic Research Academy.

“I did not go on an Israeli visa. It was all organized by the Jordanian authorities,” Gomaa said. “And I wanted to pray in the Al-Aqsa Mosque to earn God’s great reward.”