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PLO: Israel turning 'question of Palestine into religious war'

Sept. 20, 2015 2:19 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 20, 2015 7:18 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat on Sunday accused the Israeli government of "enthusiastically trying to turn the question of Palestine into a religious war" through its actions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Erekat said in a statement that the PLO does not accept a religious narrative concerning the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.

He instead pointed to "Israel's colonization and occupation of Palestine," and insisted the PLO would "continue to seek all necessary legal and diplomatic paths" toward a solution.

Erekat added that the increase in Israeli attacks against "the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound" would not be accepted.

He called on the international community "to assume its responsibility to protect the Palestinian people and their holy sites, and to take concrete steps to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine."

Tensions in Jerusalem have soared in recent weeks, as Israeli authorities have continued to impose strict restrictions on Muslim worshipers, while scheduling time to allow right-wing Israelis to tour the compound.

Dozens of right-wing Israelis entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday morning in groups heavily escorted by Israeli forces, local sources told Ma'an.

The Jerusalem office of the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Endowment said that more than a hundred Israelis entered the compound via the Moroccan gate.

Some toured the compound, while others just walked from the Moroccan gate to the Chain gate where they exited.

Some of the “unwanted” visitors were reportedly students from ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, more than 60 Palestinians, most of them women, were denied entry after they were blacklisted as "trouble makers" by Israeli authorities at the beginning of September.

One of the blacklisted women, Um Eyhab al-Jallad, said Israeli officers had assaulted the women outside the Chain Gate, the Cotton Merchant's Gate and Hatta Gate. She said that near Hatta gate, Israeli officers attacked some of the women with pepper spray.

She added that a woman was also detained outside one of the gates.

A group of right-wing Israelis also picketed in the alley leading to the Chain Gate and reportedly performed Jewish prayers under the protection of Israeli soldiers.

On Friday, Israeli forces increased their presence around the compound, amid rumors that young Palestinians had planned a protest action to take place after midday prayers.

Later that evening, at least 11 Palestinians were detained and several more injured by Israeli forces, including one by live fire, during fierce clashes that broke out across occupied East Jerusalem, locals said.

The third holiest site in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is also venerated as Judaism's most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.

Following Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has maintained an agreement with the Islamic trust that controls the Al-Aqsa compound not to allow non-Muslim prayer in the area.

Jewish prayer is allowed at the neighboring Western Wall, which is the last remnant of the Second Temple.
Joe Fattal / USA
Its been a religious war. Israel rather have it as a religious war because they losing it politicaly and Israel will have to return East Jerusalem back to its proper ownership and probably all of the settlements
20/09/2015 16:19
izzy / usa
how can maan be so wrong. the agreement in 67 had nothing to do with prayer. that was,an agreement in the 80s. all done to not provoke a violent Muslim reaction. are muslims so violent that we need to do this for them?
20/09/2015 18:06
Tibi / Tubas
Unless The PLO Turns To Negotiations, Without Preconditions,
Palestine Will Remain Just A "Question" And Not A State !!
20/09/2015 18:34
Tony / Italy
Israel is obligated to preserving the status quo on Temple Mount, but Israel is not the ones changing it. The explosive materials secreted into Al Aqsa Mosque – that is a change in the status quo.
20/09/2015 19:41
Outlier / USA
Actually, it is the other way around. Palestinians are the ones inciting a religious war.
20/09/2015 20:51
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