Sheikh Raed Salah
Sheikh Raed SalahFlash 90

Sheikh Raed Salah, the head of the radical Islamic Movement in Israel, says that the Israeli Knesset has no right to discuss matters pertaining to the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Temple Mount, and that all of its decisions on the matter are null and void.

In an interview published Wednesday in Hamas publication Falastin, Salah said that "we will continue to monitor all of the Israeli plans that have as their goal the city of Al Quds [Jerusalem - ed.] and the Al Aqsa Mosque. The Knesset's intervention in the matters of Al Aqsa is null and void, and anything that stems from something that is null and void, is null and void itself."

Salah called for adoption of a strong Arab and Islamic line toward the Knesset's decisions regarding the Al Aqsa mosque. The so-called Arab Spring, he said, despite "difficulties" that it has involved, will assist Jerusalem and Al Aqsa in the long run and is "the hope" for the future.

He blamed Israel for trying to duplicate, on the Temple Mount, the current arrangement between Arabs and Jews at the Cave of Machpela in Hevron. Israel wants to enable Jewish ritual on the Temple Mount, he claimed, and is trying to change Jerusalem's geography and demography.

The Temple Mount is Judaism's holiest site, where the two holy Temples of Israel stood prior to their destruction, and where some Jewish traditions teach that the creation of the world began.

But despite that fact, Jewish visitors to the Mount are subject to severe restrictions, including a complete ban on prayers or the performance of any other religious rituals, due to the presence of an Islamic complex there that is built on the ruins of the two Jewish Temples. This despite court orders rejecting such bans as illegally infringing on the right to freedom of religion.

Temple Mount activists have often cited such restrictions as an added imperative for Jews to frequent the Temple Mount, as a way of asserting Jewish rights at the holiest site in Israel. They also fear the "abandonment" of the Temple Mount to the Muslim Waqf, which stands accused of the systematic destruction of Jewish artifacts on the Mount.

Salah's comments come amid Muslim anger over a bill by Religious Affairs Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home), which seeks to put an end to the ban on Jewish prayer at Judaism's holiest site.

The extremist cleric has been arrested on numerous occasions for inciting violence against Jewish visitors on the Temple Mount