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December 28, 2017 4:47 pm

Israeli Embassy in Cairo Hails Egyptian Scholar Who Questioned Holiness of Jerusalem to Muslims

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The Western Wall and Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Israeli Embassy in Cairo praised on Tuesday an Egyptian scholar who — in televised remarks last weekend — questioned the sanctity of Jerusalem to Muslims.

“We are pleased to hear the words of writer and historian Youssef Ziedan and his description of the deep-rooted relationship between Jews and Muslims that existed even before Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him,” the embassy statement said, according to an Al Jazeera translation. “And at how he pointed out that the origins of the ongoing conflict between the two sides stem from extremists.”

“There is no doubt that Ziedan’s interpretation entails the need to abandon the culture of hate between the two sides, and this in our view is an important message,” the statement concluded. “Cooperation between Jews and Muslims would benefit Egyptians and Israelis and would be beneficial to the two sides’ rising generations.”

In his ONTV appearance, Al Arabiya reported, Ziedan claimed, “Jerusalem is not holy,” and cast doubt on the commonly-accepted history of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In 1979, Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace agreement with the Jewish state (as part of which the Sinai Peninsula — which had been taken control of by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War — was given back), though the relationship has at times been strained over the years, particularly when there have been outbursts of violence in the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ties have steadily improved since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took power in 2013, after ousting his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Israel and Egypt share a number of regional interests — including the containment of Iran and combating ISIS.

However, normalization of the relationship with Israel remains a sensitive topic for much of the Egyptian public.

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