The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Egypt's senior religious authority, has denounced Israel's "insistence" on allowing the far-right, ultranationalist "Flag March" to go ahead in occupied Jerusalem later today.
"The march is another provocation by the Zionist entity," said Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb. "It joins a long series of criminal schemes." He described the Israeli move as an "attempt to win cheap political propaganda points at the expense of the blood and rights of the peaceful Palestinians."
Calling on Arabs and Muslims around the world to "stand up to these Zionist violations," the Grand Sheikh warned that "more violence, destruction and devastation" could follow in their wake.
The new Israeli government confirmed yesterday that the march can go ahead at 18.30 local time. In response, Palestinian factions have called for what they call a "Day of Rage" in the besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank.
As a precautionary measure, the Israeli military is reported to have made preparations for a possible escalation in Gaza over the march. The US Embassy in Jerusalem has banned its employees and their families from entering the Old City today.
Security has apparently been stepped up in and around the Old City in what is being seen as a test of the new Israeli government's approach to such matters.