Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has warned the Israeli occupation against submitting any proposal to divide the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on religious basis, saying that any such move will lead to “overwhelming anger with unpredictable results” given its religious sanctity for Palestinians, other Arabs, and Muslims in general, Wafa news agency reported on Monday, June 12.
Shtayyeh’s remarks came after the Islamic Supreme Council and Council of Scholars and Preachers in the occupied territories issued a statement on Sunday calling the Israeli proposal to divide the Al-Aqsa mosque dangerous. It also appealed to the concerned authorities to take strong measures to prevent any such move, Al-Mayadeen reported.
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Last week, Member of Knesset (MK) from the ruling Likud party, Amit Halevi, proposed a legislation as per which the Al-Aqsa mosque compound would be divided into two parts, to be allotted to settlers and Palestinians separately.
As per the proposed legislation, Palestinians will get access to around 30% of the present compound with the rest going to the settlers to pray, which will include the area where the Dome of the Rock is located. It will also allow the settlers to use all the gates of the compound instead of the present mechanism where they are only allowed to enter the mosque compound through the Al-Maghrabi (Morocco) gate.
Responding to the proposal to divide Al-Aqsa, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, warned on Thursday that the move will lead to a “worldwide religious war.”
The proposed division of Al-Aqsa would be a serious violation of the 1967 “status quo” agreement, according to which Jordanians are the custodian of the mosque and no one other than Muslims is allowed to pray inside it. It will also be a violation of the international law of occupation, under which an occupying power is not allowed to make any fundamental changes in the occupied territories.
Israel has been consistent in violating the laws of occupation. It has built hundreds of illegal settlements by forcefully displacing Palestinians and created permanent structures inside the occupied territories. It even divided a significant mosque—the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron in the occupied West Bank—between Palestinians and settlers in the 1990s.
In recent years, the Al-Aqsa compound has come under increased attacks and repeated raids by ultra right-wing settlers under full Israeli security cover. Some of the settlers even perform rituals and prayers inside the mosque compound which is prohibited.
Ultra right-wing settlers consider the present Al-Aqsa compound to be the site of the temple built by the mythical Solomon and recognize it as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. There have been increasing calls by such sections to ‘rebuild’ the Temple Mount at the site.
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