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PA governor of Jerusalem denounces Israeli violations in holy city

Feb. 16, 2017 3:57 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 16, 2017 5:32 P.M.)
(File)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Authority (PA)-appointed governor of Jerusalem denounced on Wednesday statements by Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.

Adnan al-Husseini said that comments made on Monday by Erdan affirming that “the Temple Mount was the holiest site for the Jewish people, and only for the Jewish people” -- using the Jewish term for the Al-Aqsa compound -- were “extremely dangerous.”

Al-Husseini said that Israeli measures in Jerusalem, including visits of the Al-Aqsa compound by extremist Israelis and detentions of Al-Aqsa employees, were “unprecedented.”

According to the Islamic Endowment, 2016 saw the highest number of incursions on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by right-wing Israelis than previously recorded years, these incursions being often accompanied by assaults on employees of the endowment.

The Al-Aqsa compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The third holiest site in Islam, it is also venerated as Judaism's most holy place, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.

While Jewish visitation is permitted to the compound, non-Muslim worship is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967. Despite this agreement, Israeli authorities regularly allow Jewish visitors to enter the site and carry out religious worship -- often under armed guard.

Al-Husseini added that Israel was attempting to “change the status quo” in East Jerusalem through procedures at Al-Aqsa and demolitions of Palestinian homes, notably in the neighborhood of Silwan.

The PA official also slammed Israel’s recently passed “Regularization law” and the “Muezzin bill” set to be considered by the Knesset as “unprecedented” moves showing the influence of extremist settlers on Israel’s far-right government.

Al-Husseini went on to add that the “Regularization law,” which grants official Israeli governmental recognition to more than a dozen illegal settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank established on private Palestinian lands, amounted to a “war crime.”

He said that the Arab and Muslim worlds’ responses to the offenses committed in Jerusalem by Israel were “not sufficient.”

Palestinians charge that the forceful eviction of Palestinian families is part of a larger strategy to "Judaize" Jerusalem and deny Palestinians the right to live in the holy city.

East Jerusalem is internationally recognized as Palestinian territory, but Israel occupied it in 1967 and later annexed it in a move never considered legitimate by the international community.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
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