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3 Feb, 2016

Israel Approves Jewish Prayer Site at Al-Aqsa Mosque’s Western Wall

RAMALLAH, February 1, 2016 (WAFA) – Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs, Yousef Ide’es Monday afternoon slammed the Israeli cabinet’s approval of a mixed Jewish male-female prayer area at East Jerusalem’s Western Wall as an attempt to change the status quo.

The Israeli cabinet has approved a plan to allocate an area for mixed-gender Jewish prayer area at the Western Wall, known for Muslims as al-Buraq Wall, and has earmarked $10 million for this purpose.

Speaking at a press conference, Ide’es stated that this Israeli dangerous scheme constitute an attempt to change the status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and demonstrates the ongoing obliteration of the Palestinian cultural identity of Jerusalem.

He stressed that the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, including its buildings, courtyards, doors and walls, belong to Muslims, adding that the Israeli cabinet’s approval of the prayer area is a step that reinforces the reality of Israeli occupation and Judaization of Jerusalem through the forceful displacement of indigenous occupants of the city.

He also stressed that the Western Wall is an integral part of the mosque compound and referred to Israel’s demolition of Jerusalem’s 800-year-old Mughrabi Quarter that was replaced by the Western Wall plaza in June 1967.

He held the Israeli cabinet fully responsible for the possible disastrous consequences of this approval and called upon Arabs and Muslims worldwide to protect the mosque complex.

Meanwhile, The Grant Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Hasanain decried Israel’s prevention of the renovation of some terraces near al-Silsila Gate.

Earlier Monday, Israeli police prevented the Islamic Endowment Department’s reconstruction committee from renovating some terraces near the gate. Police troops reportedly cordoned off the renovation scene and prevented the staff from carrying out their work, forcing them out of the area.

Hasanain slammed the Israeli occupation authorities for meddling in the affairs of the Palestinian Islamic and Christian holy sites and described the police intervention as “aggressive” and “grave”.

Jews refer to the site as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples destroyed in ancient times. The site is home to the third holiest mosque in Islam, and houses the al-Aqsa Mosque Building and the Dome of the Rock.

The site, which is part of East Jerusalem, was occupied by Israel from Jordan in 1967 but both countries agreed to keep the site under Jordanian jurisdiction since then.

The site has been an epicenter of the prolonged Israeli-Arab conflict. The site has witnessed recurrent clashes in recent years between Muslim worshipers and Israeli police, most frequently due to provocative visits by Jewish extremists who believe the mosque should be destroyed and replaced with a Jewish temple.

The most violent clashes were witnessed in the year 2000, when late Israeli Prime Minister, long known for his far-right views, Ariel Sharon entered the holy site along with 200 police officers, provoking what was then known as the Palestinian Second Intifada.

Since early October 2015, the Palestinian territories, Gaza, and Israel have been witnessing increasing violence; fueled by Israel’s growing attempts to divide the mosque between Muslims and Jews. Since then, at least 165 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces’ fire.