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400 lawmakers attend Jerusalem meeting in Istanbul

ANADOLU AGENCY
ISTANBUL
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A two-day conference devoted to Jerusalem (Al-Quds), which wrapped up Wednesday evening in Istanbul, was attended by hundreds of lawmakers and prominent figures from around the world.

The event was held to reaffirm that the city "remains in the hearts and minds of all Arabs and Muslims", Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories and the Al-Aqsa Mosque's head imam, told Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of the first annual meeting of the Association of Parliamentarians for Al-Quds.

The association was established in October of last year at a meeting attended by 150 lawmakers from 30 countries.

Sabri voiced hope that the recommendations issued at this week's conference would be speedily implemented, while also hailing the "steadfastness" of the people of Jerusalem in the face of the Israeli occupation's ongoing "Judaization" of the city.

The meeting was attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and chaired by Turkish Parliament Speaker Ismail Kahraman.

Lawmakers from several Arab and Islamic countries, along with a number of international figures, also participated in the event.

Jamal Qarsally, a German lawmaker of Arab origin, said the conference would send a message to the world that Jerusalem "will remain in our hearts and consciences".

"Al-Quds is an issue for all of us," Aydın Önel, head of the Turkish Parliament's Friends of Palestine group, said at the meeting.

Sibel Siber, parliamentary speaker in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, for her part, said: "The people of Cyprus hope the Palestinian people will soon enjoy freedom in their own country."

Sheikh Hameed al-Ahmar, head of the Parliamentarians for Al-Quds Association, meanwhile, declared: "Al-Quds is the cradle of the heavenly messages and civilizations; it has been hallowed by the three holy books [i.e., the Torah, New Testament and the Quran]."

Al-Ahmar went on to decry Israeli policies in Jerusalem, which, he said, "serve to uproot the city's original inhabitants, confiscate homes and properties, and arrest and exile Jerusalem-based [Palestinian] lawmakers".

In an opening address, President Erdoğan said the defense of Jerusalem's iconic Al-Aqsa Mosque -- along with support for the Palestinian national cause -- was an obligation for Muslims around the world.

"The only way to guarantee lasting peace in the Middle East is to establish an independent and sovereign state of Palestine based on 1967 borders with its capital in East Jerusalem," President Erdoğan said.

"In order to achieve this," he added, "the international community must increase its support for Palestine."

The two-day conference, which wrapped up Wednesday evening, was attended by more than 400 lawmakers from 40 countries.

In a final statement, meeting participants called for the formation of a committee to document the crimes of the Israeli occupation with a view to presenting them to The Hague-based International Criminal Court.

They also called for the establishment of a legal committee to defend Palestinian lawmakers who had been detained or exiled by the Israeli authorities.

The statement concluded with an appeal to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Al-Quds Committee and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to take "all necessary measures" to protect Jerusalem's -- and all of historical Palestine's -- historical heritage.

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