Despite Palestinian objection: Israel allows non-Muslims to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque
Israeli police have reopened the Temple Mount, Islam's third holiest site, to Jews and Christians on Wednesday, following consultations between top Israeli officials and representatives of the Waqf, Islam's religious Trust.
A group of American tourists already visited Al-Aqsa Mosque - in occupied East Jerusalem Wednesday morning, under intense police security, according to Israeli media.
Israel's Internal Security Minister, Tzachi HaNegbi said Wednesday morning, following the site's re-opening that "From now on, we won't allow Palestinians to prohibit non-Muslims from visiting the site, which is holy to all religions."
Jerusalem police Chief Mikki Levy said, "There is no connection between the opening of the Temple Mount today (Wednesday) to the attack which took place yesterday".
According to Levy, "After the Temple Mount had been opened to visitors for a few months, the police suspended the entrance of Jewish and Christian visitors to the Mount for operational reasons for a period of three weeks", and added, "The suspension and re-opening came after the issues had been examined".
Levy declined to confirm whether the deal had been reached with the Waqf, however, according to Israeli reports, a spokesman for the Trust said it had consented to the visits. According to the police chief, "From now on, any group of tourists or Jews will be able to visit the Mount in an organized manner and with the approval of the police".
Last week, the Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine, Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, has castigated the Israeli government for its practices against Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Sheikh Sabri affirmed that the Islamic Awkaf department was the sole party responsible for holy shrines in occupied Jerusalem, especially Al Aqsa Mosque and was the only one to allow or ban the entry of non-Muslims.
The resumption of foreigners’ visits to the Aqsa Mosque’s plazas would be declared whenever the Awkaf found it appropriate, he elaborated. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)