The Islamist Ra’am party, which is part of Israel’s motley ruling coalition, on Sunday joined a chorus of condemnation from the Arab and Muslim world over the ascent of hundreds of Jewish pilgrims to the Temple Mount to commemorate the Jewish fast of Tisha B’av, claiming the flashpoint site – Judaism’s holiest – is the “sole property of Muslims.”
Close to 2,000 Jews visited the Temple Mount after police cleared the site of violent Palestinian demonstrators who threw stones at police, Israel Police said. The site marks the spot where the two Jewish temples stood. Tisha B’av, which Jews observed from Saturday night until Sunday night, marks the anniversary of the temples’ destruction in 586 BCE and 70 CE respectively.
The site, which is the third holiest site in Islam, is administered by the Jordanian Islamic Waqf which bars Jews from praying there.
“The Al-Aqsa Mosque, in its 144 dunams, is solely the property of Muslims, and no one else has any right to it,” the Islamist party said in a joint statement with its parent organization, the Islamic Movement.
Authorities “allowed officials and Knesset members to storm Al-Aqsa, perform prayers, perform religious rituals, and declaim the Israeli national anthem Hatikva in the courtyards of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Ra’am said according to a translation of the statement by the Times of Israel.
“The events that may result from it could inflame the situation in Jerusalem and the entire region, leading to a catastrophic religious war,” Ra’am added in the statement, which referred to the Jewish pilgrims as “settlers.”
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday called for “freedom of worship for Jews on the [Temple] Mount.”
He also highlighted that “freedom of worship will also fully be preserved for Muslims,” noting the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha this week.
Turkey and Egypt condemned the Jewish ascension to the site.
“Israeli security forces have once again violated the sanctity of al-Haram al-Sharif by allowing racist Jewish groups to raid al-Aqsa Mosque, attacking Palestinian civilians praying in the area and detaining Palestinian civilians, including children and women, leading to images that offended human dignity,” according to a statement from the Turkish foreign ministry.
Cairo, meanwhile, condemned “the renewed violations of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli extremists under the protection of the Israeli forces,” the Times of Israel cited the Egyptian Foreign Ministry as saying.