PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said Monday that a new plan to allow Jewish Israelis to enter East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound through a second gate was a “loud insult” to Muslims around the world.
“Israel is creating a new reality at the expense of Palestinians, their religious rights, sites, and historical identity,” Ashrawi said in a statement.
“They are violating the sanctity of religious sites without consequences, which completely terminates possibilities for peace and will ultimately drag the whole region into disastrous clashes.”
Ashrawi, who is a Palestinian Christian, also said that Israel was using religion to control holy sites that do not belong to it.
She called on the international community to hold Israel accountable for what she called “violations” against Muslim and Christian holy sites in East Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine.
Army radio announced earlier that the Israeli ministry of tourism was working on a plan to allow Jews to enter the Al-Aqsa compound through the Cotton Merchants Gate, in addition to the Moroccan Gate which is already used as an entrance for non-Muslims.
Due to the sensitive nature of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israel maintains a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls the compound to restrict the area for Muslim prayers.
Israeli forces, however, regularly escort right-wing Jewish visitors to the site, leading to tension with Palestinian worshipers.
According to mainstream Jewish religious leaders, Jews are forbidden from entering for fear they would profane the “Holy of Holies,” or the inner sanctum of the Second Temple they believe was once located at the site.
East Jerusalem was occupied by the Israeli army in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognized by the international community.
(Ma’an – www.maannews.net)