Rivlin Slams Abbas's 'Filthy Jewish Feet' Comment

At press conference in Jerusalem, President Reuven Rivlin criticizes Mahmoud Abbas's 'filthy Jewish feet' comments.

Arutz Sheva Staff, | updated: 18:39

President Reuven Rivlin
President Reuven Rivlin
Yaakov Naumi/Flash 90

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday warned against religious incitement on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, saying Israel and the Palestinians were "sitting on a volcano."

Rivlin, whose post is mainly ceremonial, made the comments as unrest has spread in recent days, particularly in Jerusalem and Judea-Samaria.  

Clashes have also rocked Temple Mount, which is Judaism's holiest site but also houses the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, and where Jews are banned from praying in response to threats of violence by Muslims.  

Islamist rioters have in recent weeks escalated their campaign of violence aimed at preventing even the limited visits by Jews to the site, barricading themselves inside the mosque and clashing with Israeli police. Israeli officials have accused radical Muslim groups of inciting violence at the site.

Rivlin criticized Palestinian incitement, in particular a recent statement from Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, who called on Muslims to prevent Jews from "defiling" the Temple Mount with "their filthy feet."

"We are sitting now just a few hundred yards from the Old City of Jerusalem; holy to people of faith, important to the students of history, and at the moment at the center of your work as journalists covering Israel," he told journalists.

"What has happened in the city over the past few days and weeks is heartbreaking and must be strongly condemned. Let me be clear; those who wish to turn the tragedy between us into a religious war have blood on their hands. 

We hear again and again, lies about Israel's intentions toward the holy mountain - holy to Jews and Muslims. So again, I say clearly, Israel has no intention to change the status quo. But this status quo - this important understanding - needs two sides to keep it.”

President Rivlin stressed that Israel would “continue to respect Muslim prayer at the site, the Mosque and the Shrine. But Muslims must respect the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, the Jews who live in Jerusalem, and the Jews who visit its holy sites. Only then can we begin – Jews, Muslims, and Christians - to live like we did before , together in the city of Jerusalem and all the holy land.”

Rivlin also made reference to the radical northern branch of the Hamas-linked Islamic Movement in Israel, and others accused of orchestrating some of the violence at the site.

"We are sitting on a volcano," he said.

Rivlins comments come as weeks of violence continued to escalate in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and other parts of Israel.

On Wednesday alone a series of terrorist attacks were carried out by Arab extremists, prompting Prime Minister Netanyahu to cancel his scheduled trip to Germany tomorrow and convene an emergency security cabinet meeting.