Despite PM's ban, Arab MK visits Temple Mount

Extremist MK Basel Ghattas flouts ban on MKs, ministers visiting holy site in an effort to ease tensions, boasts 'Israel couldn't stop me.'

Ari Soffer ,

ח''כ באסל גטאס בהר הבית
ח''כ באסל גטאס בהר הבית
צילום: דוברות

Extremist Arab MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List) visited the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount this morning (Wednesday), despite a declared ban by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on all MKs and ministers from visiting the Mount in an attempt to ease tensions.

In a message on his Facebook page Wednesday morning, Ghattas boasted: "This morning I entered the Al Aqsa complex. Netanyahu and Israel weren't able to stop me entering the mosque.

"The state continues to change the status quo and empower the sovereignty of the Israeli occupation (sic) at the site," he continued. "Soon I will publish material which proves this."

Rumors that Israel is trying to "change the status quo" - namely, ending the ban on Jewish prayer at the site - have been repeatedly spread by Muslim extremists to encourage further attacks against Israelis. Despite the claims, Netanyahu has repeatedly insisted the current situation would not be changed and, much to the anger of Jewish Temple Mount groups, even agreed to install CCTV cameras at the site to monitor Jewish groups to ensure no one prayed.

Islamists are upset about the camera installations as well, however, since they will also be used by police to monitor the activities of Muslim extremists who regularly harass Jewish visitors and attack police on the Temple Mount.

Ghattas - who is a Christian Arab - is notorious for his extremist stances even by the Joint List's standards. He has frequently claimed that terrorists killed while attacking Israelis were innocent Palestinians "executed" for no reason, echoing claims by many Palestinian Authority officials which are designed, ironically, to inflame tensions and encourage further attacks.

Ghattas was recently criticized by members of his own party for taking part in a flotilla aimed at breaking Israel's blockade of Gaza. Angry party members accused the radical MK of obsessing over Gaza instead of focusing on the needs of the Arab-Israeli electorate who voted him in.

In response to Ghattas's latest publicity stunt, MK Itzik Shmueli (Zionist Union) branded him "a genuine pyromaniac who feeds off of the violence and incitement and is interested in continuing to spread it.

"The state's policy is clear: the status-quo will be preserved. But for Ghattas the urge to encourage violence is more important."

"Most Israeli Arabs do not hold his separatists and extreme positions," Shmueli added. "So I expect the other Joint List members to decry this unnecessary action."