Israeli MP Glick prays at flashpoint Jerusalem holy site after two-year ban

#Religion

Arab lawmakers have warned that allowing right-wing MPs to enter the compound risked 'inflaming the situation'

Far right Israeli MP Yehuda Glick (C) walks barefoot, escorted by Israeli police and supporters, inside the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City (AFP)
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Tuesday 29 August 2017 10:24 UTC
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Israeli lawmaker Yehuda Glick, shot in 2014 over his campaign for Jewish prayer at an ultra-sensitive Jerusalem holy site, visited there on Tuesday during a one-day break in a government ban.

No incidents occurred as Glick, of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, toured the Haram al-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Some Muslim worshippers yelled "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest) as he left and he waved to them.

Jews are not allowed to publicly pray at the compound to avoid provoking tensions, but Glick admitted praying to himself as he walked the grounds in his bare feet.

He said he prayed for his wife, who he said was in a coma, as well as his family and Israel.

Asked afterwards whether such visits are provocations that risk more bloodshed, Glick told journalists "those who are responsible for terror are the terrorists and those who incite them, not the victims."

At least one other Jewish member of parliament, Shuli Moalem-Refaeli of the far-right Jewish Home party, also visited on Tuesday morning, according to the Waqf, a Muslim religious organisation that administers the site.

Jewish MPs were allowed to visit in the morning while Muslim and Arab lawmakers were permitted to do so in the afternoon although they said they did not intend to do so.

Masud Ganaim, of the Joint List alliance, said allowing right-wing politicians into the compound had "the goal of provoking Arab and Muslim sentiment and inflaming the situation".

Ahmad Tibi, MP for the Ta'al party, said Arab lawmakers would enter whenever they wished and "not when Netanyahu decides".

Netanyahu instructed police in October 2015 to bar lawmakers from visiting the site in the Old City of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem which houses the Al-Aqsa mosque complex and the Dome of the Rock.

It was meant to help calm unrest that erupted in part over Palestinian fears that Israel was planning to assert further control over the compound.

Netanyahu has said repeatedly that he is committed to the status quo there.

Plans to allow a temporary lifting of the ban in July were put off after violence again erupted in and around the site.

Tuesday's one-day lifting of the ban is intended as a test to see if calm can be maintained.

The site is the holiest in Judaism as the location of two ancient Jewish temples and the third-holiest in Islam after Mecca and Medina.

It is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Glick, a US-born rabbi, survived a 2014 assassination attempt by a Palestinian over his campaign for Jewish prayer rights at the site before he joined parliament.