Jerusalem Mufti quits UAE peace forum over 'stab in the back' pro-normalisation stance

Jerusalem Mufti quits UAE peace forum over 'stab in the back' pro-normalisation stance
Sheikh Muhammad Hussein has stepped down from an Emirati peace group in anger over its support for UAE-Israel normalisation.
2 min read
27 August, 2020
Jerusalem's Grand Mufti Sheikh Muhammad Hussein [Getty]
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem resigned on Wednesday from a UAE forum after it announced its support for the Emirati normalisation deal with Israel.

Sheikh Muhammad Hussein told a press conference that he had handed his resignation to the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies (FPPMS) following its statement in support of the agreement that aims to establish full diplomatic ties between the UAE and Israel.

Hussein oversees Jerusalem's Muslim holy sites, including Al-Aqsa Mosque, a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“This normalisation is a stab in the back of Palestinians and Muslims, and a betrayal for Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem,” Hussein said.

Hussein announced last week that Emiratis and other Arabs would not be allowed to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque if they try to enter through means of the normalisation deal.

In an exuberant statement, the FPPMS said the UAE-Israel deal “stopped Israel from extending its sovereignty over Palestinian lands” and and was a means to "promote peace and stability across the world".

However the group removed the statement after it attracted criticism.

The official Emirati statement on normalisation praised the move as halting Israel's plans to annex Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu however, has reiterated that annexation has not been cancelled, only delayed.

The UAE set up the FPPMS in 2014 as a peace and dialogue initiative for the wider region. It is headed by the former Mauritanian politician and religious professor, and current Grand Mufti of the UAE, Abdullah bin Bayyah.

Read also: How the Israel-UAE alliance formalises new fault lines in the Middle East

Sheikh Muhammad Hassan in the second resignation from the body in less than a week.

On Sunday, Muslim-American activist Aisha al-Adawiya said she was standing down from the FPPMS due to its statement on Israel-UAE normalisation.

Adawiya said the board was never consulted on the topic of normalisation, and that there had been no stance agreed on the issue.

"As a result of this breach of trust and consistent with my values, I'm announcing my resignation," the activist wrote on Facebook.

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