The grand mufti, one of Egypt’s highest religious authorities, said he had visited Jerusalem on Wednesday for the first time, angering Islamist groups opposed to any step that might be viewed as recognizing Israeli control of the city.
Mufti Ali Gomaa said on his Twitter account that he had visited Jerusalem, entering from the West Bank via Jordan and not from the Israeli side. He said he prayed in the al-Aqsa mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, in the walled old city.
East Jerusalem was captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 war. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as a future capital of a Palestinian state. Israel describes Jerusalem as its eternal undivided capital.
Egyptian religious officials, including members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian church, have for decades refused to travel to Jerusalem in protest at the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem and the Palestinian areas.