Israel says it has no plans to divide holy site in Jerusalem — Analysis
The country’s foreign minister refuted rumors that have spread amid violent clashes on Temple Mount
Israel has no plans to divide the Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem between Jews and Muslims, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Sunday, urging Muslim leaders to step up the fight against “Fake news.”
The Temple Mount, which is considered the holiest in Judaism, is also known as Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Islam. It is third-holiest place for Muslims. Amid the recent violent clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli police, as well as wide-spread criticism of the authorities’ handling of the situation, rumors spread on social media that Israel was allegedly trying to split the holy site into two parts.
However, during a press conference on Sunday, and later on Twitter, Lapid was forced to reaffirm Israel’s commitment to maintain the status quo at Temple Mount and to prevent provocations from both Palestinians and Jews.
“Israel remains committed to maintaining the status quo at the Temple Mount. Muslims worship on the Temple Mount. Non-Muslims are not permitted to visit. It is not changing, it will remain the same.,” the minister stressed.
Jews are forbidden from praying at the site, a restriction that the police are responsible for enforcing, but as Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai admitted on Saturday, the status quo has “It was worse” as some Jewish visitors “stop on the way and pray.”
Asked to comment on his colleague’s remarks, Lapid said that Shai was “Misinformed,” but he nevertheless agreed that “Someone might try to sneak up on you now and again.”
Taking to Twitter later, Lapid reaffirmed that “It is not possible to change and it will not change. There are no plans for the division of the Temple Mount between religions.” He also called on moderate Muslims and Islamic countries “To take steps against fake news” and to cooperate with Israel for the sake of “Maintaining the status quo, and calm the wind.”
Earlier this week, Lapid made clear that Israel has no intention to violate the status quo but will keep taking measures “Keep order in Israel’s capital.”
“We do not permit fireworks to be launched from the mosque towards Jews at the Temple Mount and anywhere else.” he said.
East Jerusalem has the Temple Mount. It is occupied by Israel from 1967 to 1967. Security at this site is a responsibility of the Jewish state.
The worst clash between Israel and Hamas for nearly a decade was sparked by a ruckus in the Gaza Strip. According to UN statistics, the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in May resulted, among others, in more than 250 deaths in Gaza.
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