Morocco concerned over Catholic heritage agreement in Jerusalem

Morocco concerned over Catholic heritage agreement in Jerusalem

RABAT, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- Morocco expressed concern over an amendment of a 1993 agreement signed between the Vatican and Israel on the heritage of the Catholic Church in Jerusalem, the royal cabinet said in a statement Wednesday.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco, chairman of the Jerusalem committee in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, stressed in a message to Pope Francis and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that "this move is likely to impede efforts made to maintain a climate that is appropriate for the success of the (Israeli- Palestinian) peace talks," according to the official news agency MAP.

The peace talks, which were revived in July 2013 under the aegis of the U.S., will address the status of East Jerusalem as well as other issues such as settlements.

The monarch urged the global leaders not to sign an agreement that would "give legitimacy to the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem and stir over one billion Muslims worldwide."

"The signature of this amendment will support the provocative practices of colonization committed by Israel and its serious violations of al-Aqsa mosque, Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories," he added, noting that such measures run counter to international law and UN resolutions, which stress the need to safeguard the cultural identity of the holy city and not undermine its legal status.

Jerusalem is at the center of the fierce battle in the Middle East, he said, adding that the two sides must come to a just and comprehensive peace on the basis of a two-state solution.