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Yehuda Glick sits outside of Al-Aqsa in protest of ban on MK visits to the holy site

Aug. 14, 2017 12:59 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 14, 2017 7:42 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Far-right Israeli parliamentarian Yehuda Glick protested outside of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Monday morning to denounce the ban preventing Knesset members from accessing the compound for the past year and a half.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ruled in early July to temporarily lift the ban preventing Israeli MPs from accessing the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for a five-day period in late July.

However, the decision was canceled in the wake of a deadly shooting attack on July 14 that led to a 13-day long civil disobedience campaign in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank to denounce security measures installed at the Al-Aqsa compound, to avoid further fueling the tensions surrounding the holy site.

Glick, who is one of the leading advocates for Jewish visitation to the Al-Aqsa compound, arrived on Monday morning at Al-Aqsa’s Lions’ Gate under heavy police protection, and decided to symbolically work outside of the compound on Monday to denounce the ban.

Meanwhile, dozens of far-right Israelis toured the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound early on Monday under heavy police protection.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound -- known to Jews as the Temple Mount -- sits just above the Western Wall plaza, and 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 is believed to be the place where the First and Second Temples once stood.

Netanyahu initially issued the MK visitation ban in the fall of 2015, seeking to ease tensions at the compound amid a deadly wave of political unrest that erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel.

Prior to being instated in the Knesset, Glick had commonly taken to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound with ultra-nationalist Israelis to perform rituals and prayers at the site, a practice Palestinians say is an attempt to challenge long-standing international agreements regarding the holy site.

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.

Many Palestinians and rights groups fear that right-wing groups calling for the destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque to make way for a third Jewish temple are gaining growing influence in Netanyahu’s right-wing government.
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