Al-Aqsa Mosque Preacher Condemns US ‘Provocative’ Quds Plan

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The preacher of Al-Aqsa Mosque and head of Jerusalem’s Supreme Islamic Council, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, condemned Washington’s recent announcement to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to al-Quds (Jerusalem) in May as a provocative measure.

Al-Aqsa Mosque Preacher Condemns US ‘Provocative’ Quds Plan

Speaking to the Tasnim News Agency, Sheikh Sabri said by setting May 14 as the date for the relocation of its embassy to Quds, Washington aims to provoke (Muslims) and create challenges.

He further pointed to US President Donald Trump’s measures against Palestinians and said his moves are hostile, adding that Trump exhibits a blind and abusive behavior toward Islam and Muslims.

The cleric also said the US, Britain and France are backing the Israeli regime to create deterrence against Muslims.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Friday said the United States is planning to open its embassy in Quds in May.

“We are excited about taking this historic step, and look forward with anticipation to the May opening,” she said.

Earlier, an official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said most embassy staff will remain in Tel Aviv.

“Come May, we’re moving the ambassador and a small team to Arnona,” the compound that currently houses the consular operations of the US Consulate General in Quds, the official said.

“What will happen by May, is a sign will be put up in Arnona identifying the facility as the US Embassy,” the official added.

Another US official, also requesting anonymity, said that a new embassy building will be later constructed in another location in Quds.

The State Department spokeswoman said the search for a permanent site had already begun.

According to another US officials, the new US embassy in Quds would open on May 14 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which marks the anniversary of the forcible eviction of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland by Israelis in 1948.

 A senior Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official slammed the announcement, saying Washington’s decision to open its embassy in May to coincide with Nakba Day “is a provocation to Arabs.”

“The American administration's decisions to recognize Quds as Israel's capital and choose the Palestinian people's Nakba as the date for this step is a blatant violation of international law,” he said.

Erkat added that the move will result in “the destruction of the two state option, as well as a blatant provocation to all Arabs and Muslims.”

Trump on December 6 defied global warnings and said Washington formally recognized Quds as the capital of Israel and would begin the process of moving its embassy to the occupied city, breaking with decades of American policy.

His decision infuriated the Palestinians, who declared that Washington could no longer play a role as lead mediator in the Middle East peace process. It also sparked outrage across the Muslim world and even Washington’s Arab allies.

The United Nations General Assembly on December 21 overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution that calls on the US to withdraw its controversial recognition of Quds as the Israeli capital.

The 193-nation assembly adopted the resolution by a decisive vote of 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions.

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