The Egyptian grand mufti, who has come under heat in Egypt for a visit to the Al Aksa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, told an Islamic council in Cairo that his trip was made in the context of asserting Muslim claims to the city, Egyptian state-owned Al-Ahram reported on Friday.
Testifying before a tribunal at the Islamic Research Academy led by Al-Azhar's grand sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb on Thursday, Dr. Ali Gomaa said he visited the city in order to show solidarity with the city's Palestinian residents, who are "crying out for the protection" from "Israeli occupation."
Gomaa stated that his visit to Al Aksa, the third holiest site for Muslims after mosques in Mecca and Medina, was not only in response to an open invitation by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who called on Muslims worldwide during a conference on Jerusalem in Qatar to visit the city in order to slow Israeli efforts to "Judaize" the Israeli capital. Gomaa said he received invitations from the emir of Qatar and from Jordan, and
The Egyptian mufti, who entered Jerusalem through Jordan and the West Bank, said he never received an Israeli visa, and denied claims that his trip signaled any normalization with Israel.