American Muslims Voice Concerns over Camp David Summit

( As groups of Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem hold demonstrations both for and against the current Camp David summit, American Muslims are flexing their political muscle in hopes of influencing the outcome of a possible agreement.

Representatives of several major American Muslim organizations announced earlier this week that they would not support any negotiations that would compromise the sanctity of Jerusalem and its Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam's holiest sites.

Leaders from the American Muslim Council (AMC), American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ), and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), were among those who vocalized serious concerns about the future sovereignty of Jerusalem.

By releasing the statement, the groups aimed to send a message to President Clinton not to pressure the Palestinians into any further compromise on Jerusalem.

"Any agreement that diminishes Muslim rights in Jerusalem or prevents refugees from returning to their homes in Palestine would not only be unworkable but also null and void from an Islamic perspective," a statement from the groups said.

Muslims believe Jerusalem is the city of many prophets of Islam, including David, Solomon, Zakariah and Jesus. It is mentioned in the Qur'an, Islam's revealed text as a city whose precincts have been blessed by God (Qur'an 17:1). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told Muslims that Jerusalem is one of the three cities they should visit as a religious pilgrimage.

Palestinians and Israelis remain at loggerheads over all the core issues Clinton is hoping to resolve: the future of Jerusalem, the borders of a Palestinian state, the fate of 3.7 million Palestinian refugees, Jewish settlers and security guarantees for Israel.

The American Muslim groups maintain that Muslim and Christian religious rights in Jerusalem are not safe under an Israeli occupation.

"Since the start of the peace process in 1993 Israel has maintained a closure of Jerusalem, stifling free movement, economic development and the freedom of worship of Palestinian Christians and Muslims from the West Bank. In addition, municipal policies designed by the Israeli occupation forces create conditions of such psychological and economic pressure that non-Jews are obliged to move away from the city," the groups said.

Demonstrations by Muslim Americans are tentatively planned for Friday near Camp David.

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