Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch visited the flashpoint Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif compound in Jerusalem's old city Tuesday, setting off a storm of protest among Muslims, who called the tour a 'provocation.'
Sheikh Azzam Khatib, the director of the Jerusalem Waqf authority, which administers the compound, said the visit was carried out without coordination with his office.
Arab-Israeli legislator Taleb a-Sanaa said the two-hour visit was 'a dangerous, pathetic provocation' whose purpose was to 'inflame the area.'
A spokesman for Aharonvitch was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying that the tour was 'completely professional' and there was 'no special reason for the timing, nothing unusual.'
Aharonovitch, a member of the ultra-nationalist Yisrael B'teinu party and whose ministerial responsibilities include policing, was accompanied on his visit by Police Commissioner David Cohen and Jerusalem Police Chief Aharon Franco.
and this addition:
Knesset Member Michael Ben Ari (National Union) said in response, "The hooligan behavior of the Waqf members and Knesset Member El-Sana, and the incitement against the internal security minister, threaten the rule of law in Israel. Those who try to keep the minister away from the Temple Mount plan to keep Israel away from it."
And despite all this "provocation" and "lack of coordination", nothing happened. And why should anything have happened? Don't Jews have rights?
During the 90-minute visit, Aharonovitch entered the mosque, which sits in a complex in the Old City known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and to Jews as the Temple Mount. The area also houses the gilded Dome of the Rock shrine.
..."The intention of the visit was to see how the police would deploy in case of an emergency," Aharonovitch's spokesman Tal Harel said. He said the visit was coordinated with Muslim custodians of the site, known as the Waqf, or endowment.
"We went everywhere. We were accompanied by the Waqf, who were fully aware of our presence, and this was planned in coordination with them well ahead of the visit," Harel added.
The Palestinian-appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Hussein, said the visit was not coordinated in advance.
"He does not have the right to visit al-Aqsa because it is an Islamic site and not a Jewish site, and it could ignite violence because the visit provokes the feelings of Muslims... It is an assault on an Islamic place," Hussein said.
By the way:
According to Ben-Ami, Israel tried to find a solution for Jerusalem that would be “a division in practice...that didn't look like a division;” that is, Israel was willing to compromise on the issue, but needed a face-saving formula. The Palestinians, however, had no interest in helping the Israelis; to the contrary, they wanted to humiliate them.” Nevertheless, Ben-Ami said Israel dropped its refusal to divide Jerusalem and accepted “full Palestinian sovereignty” on the Temple Mount and asked the Palestinians only to recognize the site was also sacred to Jews.[1a]
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[1a] Saul Singer, ”Camp David, Real and Invented,“ Middle East Quarterly, (Spring 2002).