The Higher Presidential Committee of Church Affairs in Palestine condemned on Tuesday the Israeli decision to register Palestinian land adjacent to Al-Aqsa Mosque for use by Jews, Petra News Agency has reported. The committee said that this measure is part of Israel's plan to control the holy city and Judaise it in preparation for establishing more illegal facts on the ground.
"Israel and its extremist settlers adopt gangland tactics to impose their control over the neighbourhoods of the holy city," the committee explained. "This is a dangerous escalation that undermines the regional and international efforts to bring peace. It will ignite the whole region."
The church officials accused Israel of using "illegal ways" to control vital areas in occupied Jerusalem's Old City, naming Al-Khalil Gate, Omar Bin Al-Khattab Square and the Petra and Imperial Hotels. They cited the Israeli plans and attempts to expel the Palestinian residents of Jabal Al-Mukabber, Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah.
"Muslim and Christian Palestinians will remain resilient in their capital, Jerusalem," they insisted, "and will defend it with their blood. They will also defend their legacy and history in the holy city."
The committee called for the international community and the Arab governments to put pressure on the Israeli occupation authorities to stop their crimes against the Palestinians, their land and their holy sites.
Last week, Israel's Justice Ministry started the "settlement of land title procedure" in Abu Thor area and the Umayyad Palaces site adjacent to the southern wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque. The procedure is using a government fund, said Middle East Eye, allegedly allocated to "reduce socio-economic gaps" and "create a better future" for Palestinians in the city.
However, according to a joint statement issued on Monday by Israeli rights groups Ir Amim and Bimkom, the fund has been utilised mainly to register land for illegal settlements and will ultimately lead to further Palestinian dispossession.