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Israel Will Maintain 'Status Quo' on Temple Mount

Israel Will Maintain ‘Status Quo’ on Temple Mount

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Israel Will Maintain ‘Status Quo’ on Temple Mount

JERUSALEM, Israel — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s weekend appeal for calm on the Temple Mount has some saying he’s advocating a long-standing ban on Jewish prayer at the contested site.

On Sunday, Netanyahu said Israel will maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount, refuting accusations by Islamists that Israel planned to destroy the Dome of the Rock shrine and the al-Aksa Mosque.

“We will certainly oppose all systematic and continuing attempts by Islamic extremist elements to stir up unrest,” Netanyahu told ministers at Sunday’s cabinet meeting. “They would like to set a religious fire in Jerusalem and thereby ignite the entire Middle East.”

Netanyahu said these extremists are spreading lies about Israeli intentions.

“They are using verbal and physical violence in an effort to exclude Jews from going up to the Temple Mount,” he continued. “We will not allow this to happen. Neither will we alter the worship arrangements and the access to the Temple Mount, which has been customary for decades,” he said.

He added that Israel is “committed to the status quo for Jews, Muslims, and Christians.”

But the Islamic Wakf, which administers the day-to-day activities, forbids non-Muslims to pray there.

Israel temporarily closed the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), following last week’s attempted assassination of Rabbi Yehuda Glick in Jerusalem.

Israeli security forces tracked down the shooter, Mu’taz Hijazi, a resident of a mixed Jerusalem neighborhood, who escaped by motorcycle after the shooting. Hijazi was killed resisting arrest after opening fire on security forces.

Israeli authorities reopened the site for Friday’s Muslim prayers, limiting participants to men 50 and over, but placing no age restrictions on women. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas called the closure a “declaration of war.”

Netanyahu criticized Abbas for publicizing his condolences to the family of the attempted assassin.

“When we are trying to calm the situation, Abu Mazen [Abbas’ nom de guerre] sends condolences over the death of one who tried to perpetrate a reprehensible murder,” Netanyahu said. “The time has come for the international community to condemn him for such actions.”

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