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Newly appointed far-right Knesset member tours Al-Aqsa Mosque

May 23, 2016 11:29 A.M. (Updated: May 23, 2016 10:20 P.M.)
Right-wing Israeli rabbi Yehuda Glick tours Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on May 23, 2016. (MaanImages)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli right-winger Yehuda Glick was escorted under armed protection into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday morning, days after it was announced that he would be sworn in as the newest member to Israel’s Knesset.

Firas al-Dibs, a spokesperson for the Islamic Endowment that controls the compound, told Ma’an that a group of right-wing Israelis including the “far-right extremist Yehuda Glick” entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound through the Moroccan Gate escorted by Israeli forces, toured the compound, and left through the Chain Gate.

After Israeli politician Moshe Yaalon announced his resignation as defense minister on Friday following Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to offer the position to ultranationalist Avigdor Lieberman, it was revealed that Glick would fill Yaalon’s seat as MK, as he was next in line on the Likud party’s list of candidates to replace a sitting Knesset member.

Under current agreements, Glick’s visit to Al-Aqsa on Monday would be his last legal opportunity to do so, as Netanyahu issued a ban in October on all Israeli Knesset members and governmental ministers -- including Palestinians and Muslims -- from entering the compound, in an attempt to ease tensions at the site.

“I have no intention of violating this order,” Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted Glick as saying. “The prime minister made it out of necessity after the place became a center of incitement by MKs from the United Arab List (Arab Joint List). MKs must convince people that they act responsibly.”

Initial reports of the order had said only Jewish members of the Knesset would be banned from entering the holy site.

“I won’t violate the order but I’ll try and see how it can be changed,” he added.

Glick is reportedly scheduled to be sworn in to the Knesset later on Monday.

The right-wing, American-born rabbi rose to prominence for leading groups of rightist Israelis into the mosque for worship, in contravention of an agreement between Israel and the Islamic endowment since 1967 which prohibits non-Muslim prayer in the compound.

In 2014, Glick reportedly assaulted a Palestinian woman while touring the holy site, although an Israeli court lately dropped the indictment against him.

He has been heavily involved with the Temple Institute, an organization dedicated to building the Third Jewish Temple in the place of the Dome of the Rock. He is also a resident of the illegal settlement of Otniel in the southern occupied West Bank.

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

While non-Muslims are allowed to visit the site during set hours, non-Muslim prayer is prohibited and increased visitation to the site by rightist groups -- like those that Glick facilitates -- last year contributed to an escalation of tensions that triggered a wave of unrest across the Palestinian territory in October.

Yehuda Glick tours Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on May 23, 2016. (MaanImages)
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