Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Friday that the state of Israel is considering allowing Jews to pray and worship inside Al-Aqsa Mosque.
In his official statement, Erdan said: “I am sure this will happen soon, God willing.” He emphasized that “the situation in Jerusalem is heading towards regaining sovereignty and control over the place. We will reach our goal when more Jews express their desire to visit the Temple Mount (Al-Aqsa, ed). Then there will be an increasing pressure following an increasing demand. I hope this happens soon. When we reach this stage, we will work and push for changing the historical status quo in Jerusalem in light of respecting the international interests for Israel.”
“Any prejudice to the beliefs and sanctities will inevitably violate the rights of peoples and nations, which will bring only destruction and devastation.”
He also stated that “we should consider the regional situation in the Middle East, which is complicated and complex. I respect the peace deal with Jordan and consider it a very important achievement, but it is impossible to accept a historical mistake. Principles change through time.” Erdan stressed that there are no laws impeding the motion from being ratified, especially if the Israeli Supreme Court backs it.
Meanwhile, Jerusalem’s Islamic leaders warned yesterday that Erdan’s remarks could have grave consequences for the already frail relations between different religious groups and ethnicities in Jerusalem. The Islamic Awqaf Council, the Higher Islamic Commission, the Palestinian Iftaa Department and the Jerusalem Awqaf Department even go so far as to say that Israel might be inciting a religious war.
More specifically, they commented that “these irresponsible statements could drag the region and the whole world into an inevitable religious conflict that we do not want. Any prejudice to the beliefs and sanctities will inevitably violate the rights of peoples and nations, which will bring only destruction and devastation.”
After the Six Day War, during which Israel occupied and annexed East Jerusalem, the Israeli Knesset passed the Preservation of the Holy Places Law, which granted different religious groups access to their various holy sites. The Islamic Waqf would receive the administration and care of the site of Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock. In 1967, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel even went so far as to forbid Jews to walk on the Temple Mount.
Most religious Jews respect this arrangement. However, the last couple of years has seen a spike in Jewish eschatological groups trying to access the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, which, for them, is the location of the Temple Mount. Obviously, this is perceived as a provocation by Muslims, both secular and religious, and often leads to conflicts.