Daily Israel Report

New Palestinian Authority PM Visits Al-Aqsa Mosque

The PA's prime minister Rami Hamdallah became the first PA premier to visit the Al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/17/2013, 5:44 AM

Temple Mount
Temple Mount
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority’s prime minister Rami Hamdallah on Sunday became the first PA premier to visit the Al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem, AFP reports.

"Jerusalem is a symbol of the Palestinian question," Hamdallah was quoted as having told the official WAFA news agency. "Our visit today shows how important Jerusalem is to the Palestinian government."

WAFA said that Hamdallah also met the mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Hussein, and visited the Al-Maqased hospital in eastern Jerusalem.

The Al-Aqsa mosque is located on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Jerusalem which was left in the hands of the Waqf following Jerusalem’s reunification in 1967.

Arabs continuously make false accusations that Israel is "Judaizing" the Temple Mount, sometimes resorting to ridiculous propaganda such as accusing Israel of using chemicals to erode the foundations of the mosque in order to cause it to collapse.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas recently accused Israel of trying to “destroy” the Al-Aqsa Mosque by allowing Jews to pray on the Temple Mount.

Abbas told a Saudi-based newspaper that "the Al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger," claiming that Israel prevents PA Arabs from praying at the mosque, while allowing “extremist Jews" to worship there. This, he claimed, is proof that Israel has a "malicious" and dangerous plan to destroy the mosque and rebuild the “false” Holy Temple in its place, as he put it.

The reality, however, is that it is the Jews – not the Arabs – who are discriminated against when they want to pray on the Temple Mount. The Waqf has removed every sign of ancient Jewish presence at the Jewish holy site.

Police, in an attempt to appease the Waqf, limit the number of Jewish worshippers allowed on the Temple Mount at one time in order to prevent conflict with Muslim worshippers. They often close the Mount to Jews in response to Muslim riots – despite evidence that Muslim riots have been planned in advance for the specific purpose of forcing Jews out.

Hamdallah succeeded former PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who resigned in April after months of difficult relations with Abbas. The new PA government headed by Hamdallah was sworn in on June 6 in Ramallah.