Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas tells Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers that a ban on Jews at the holy site must be part of the ceasefire with Hamas.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told visiting Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers Tuesday that he wants the ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas terror group in Gaza to include a ban on visits by Jews to the Temple Mount.
Abbas met in Ramallah with Foreign Ministers Sameh Shoukry of Egypt and Jordan’s Ayman Safadi before meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who arrived in Israel Monday for a 3-day visit to the region.
The Palestinian leader repeated a longstanding Arab demand that Jews must stop visiting the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, considered a holy site by both Jews and Muslims.
Palestinian officials have for years waged a battle to gain religious control of the mosque, which was granted to Jordan in the wake of the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem.
Abbas told the ministers he wanted the PA to play a major role in the rebuilding of areas of the Gaza Strip that were damaged in the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas, which ended in an informal ceasefire last week. He said he was ready to work with the Biden administration and international powers to resurrect the Middle East peace process.
In his meeting with Safadi, Abbas said the ceasefire with Hamas must include “stopping attacks and incursions by extremist settlers, backed by the Israeli occupation forces, on the al-Aqsa Mosque and on our people in the West Bank,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
The visits by the ministers of the two neighboring countries that have peace treaties with Israel were coordinated to complement and not clash with Blinken’s visit to Ramallah for talks with Abbas.
Palestinians routinely report that Jewish “settlers” are “storming” the Al Aqsa Mosque any time a group of Jewish visitors or tourists goes to the site under police escort. However, the Jews only stay in the courtyard above the Western Wall, or Kotel, of the Jewish Temple and never enter the mosque itself.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this month that only Israel guaranteed access to the holy sites for all religions, even though Jews are restricted on the Temple Mount.
“It could be said that in the long history of Jerusalem, only under Israeli sovereignty since 1967 have we witnessed a prolonged, stable and safe period in which we have been working to ensure freedom of worship and tolerance for all,” Netanyahu said.
Although Jews are permitted to visit the Temple Mount, they are not allowed to pray there – a self-imposed violation of Israel’s promise to ensure access to all holy sites in Jerusalem for all religions.
While some Zionist orthodox Jews promote visits to the Temple Mount, revered as the holiest site in Judaism, Israel’s chief rabbis and several ultra-Orthodox rabbinical sages argue that Jews should not go there because the required ritual purification cannot be properly performed.