Sep 23 2014
By Daoud Kuttab
When Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset, set foot in Al-Aqsa Mosque around 10 a.m. Sept. 14, he was on more than a tourist visit. His venture to the mosque and short prayer in the area was seen as an attempt to declare Jewish sovereignty over the Islamic holy place. It violated agreements not to change the status quo and cast doubt on an assertion by the Israeli prime minister’s office that the status quo at Al-Aqsa would not change.
That Feiglin would go to the Haram al-Sharif was known for days and required a large contingent of Israeli police. The visit proceeded after Palestinian men and women worshipers under the age of 40 were barred from the area and all except one of the gates to Islam’s third-holiest mosque were closed.
While insisting that all Jews have a right to visit what they call the Temple Mount, Israeli security officials have in the past refused such provocative visits, citing the potential for violent opposition and thus denying access for security reasons. In recent months, and under pressure from the right-wing Israeli government, including Feiglin himself, Israeli security has changed its position. Instead of banning such visits, it has undertaken unprecedented actions to bar Palestinian Muslims from their own mosque hours before them. Protests from Jordanian Islamic waqf officials, who are entrusted as guardians of the mosque, have fallen on deaf ears. Continue Reading »