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Israeli Knesset Members Enter Aqsa Compound after Two-Year Ban | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Israeli soldiers walk past the Dome of the Rock in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. (AFP)

Ramallah – Israeli Knesset members stormed into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Tuesday for the first time in two years, amid claims that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to divide the mosque, to demolish it and incite religious war in the region.

MPs Yehuda Glick of the Likud party and Shuli Moalem of the right-wing “Jewish Home” party stormed the compound through the Mugharba Gate. They were followed by rabbis and extremists. Arab MPs did not enter the area to avoid claims that Netanyahu is dictating the time of their visits.

Guarded by Israeli police, Glick and Moalem conducted two separate tours in the yards of the mosque before they left.

“I prayed for me and my family and my children and my wife, and I prayed for world peace. I prayed that God would give our prime minister strength to do his job, that he would be exonerated of all the crimes he is suspected of and would continue to unite the entire nation,” Glick said.

The Israeli government allowed a number of MPs to visit the compound as part of a one-day trial period to test the response to such a step.

Members of Knesset from the Joint List announced that they are boycotting the pilot. MP Ahmed al-Tibi said that Arab MPs will enter the al-Aqsa Compound whenever they want, not whenever Netanyahu gives the order.

Tibi said that Glick and Moalem broke into al-Aqsa Compound with the help of the Israeli government and its police.

In October 2015, Netanyahu instructed the police to bar members of the Knesset from visiting the site in the Old City of Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, in a move aimed at calming unrest as security forces predicted that their visit could lead to clashes.

Palestinian Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs Sheikh Youssef Adeis stated that the decision by the extreme right-wing Israeli government to allow Knesset members to break into the compound is a provocative decision that is illegal and inhumane and against Islamic Sharia law. It was issued by an irresponsible authority, since al-Aqsa is restricted to Muslims only, he added.

Adeis said that the Israeli occupation continued to assault worshipers amid serious Israeli attempts to divide the mosque.

He added that since last month over 100 violations committed at al-Aqsa had been registered, and over 700 since the beginning of the year.