Israel broadens limits on Palestinians' access to Al-Aqsa: Report

Ahram Online, Monday 20 Oct 2014

Knesset submits a bill to "separate" Muslims and Jews after recent clashes in occupied East Jerusalem on Feast of Tabernacles

A Palestinian holds a cut-out depicting al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock during a rally to show solidarity with al-Aqsa mosque, in Gaza City October 17, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Israel's Knesset will discuss a parliamentary bill in November that proposes separate prayer times and sites at the Al-Aqsa mosque, Israeli sources told the UAE-based 24Media website on Monday.

According to the news website, a Knesset committee has finalised drafting the bill, which prohibits Palestinians from legally protesting the measure.

The Jerusalem-located Al-Aqsa mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and Israel's recurrent violations against the mosque have historically been a major source of tension and anger among Palestinians.

Last week, Israeli authorities banned the entry of Palestinians under the age of 60 to the mosque. This act followed earlier clashes on 8 October as the occupation forces permitted ultra-Orthodox Jews to enter the Al-Aqsa compound during the Feast of Tabernacles holiday.

Mufti for Jerusalem and Palestine, Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, slammed Israeli police in a phone call with Reuters.

"The situation is difficult as the occupation forces blocked the mosque's gates, preventing Muslims from entering,” the senior cleric said, calling the move “an arbitrary action."

According to the Palestinian news agency WAFA, Hussein revealed that he was also banned from entering the mosque. The Palestinian foreign affairs ministry said in a statement that all required measures will be taken to sue Israel and all its officials in the International Criminal Court for their aggravated acts towards Palestinians.

Israeli police spokesperson Luba Samri claimed that dozens of Palestinian youths began throwing stones and firing flares at police once Jewish visitors ascended to the Al-Aqsa compound. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed that forces be increased in ''confrontation areas” and that “vigorous action'' be taken against those who disturb the peace.

"Recently there has been stone-throwing, disturbances and violence. I think that we need to deal with this not just due to the holidays but in a thorough manner," said Netanyahu.

On 13 October, Israeli police clashed again with young Palestinian protesting Jews visiting the mosque, AFP reported. 

The Palestine Liberation Organisation secretary general announced on Thursday that the Palestinians will submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council by the end of October to demand an end to Israel's occupation.

A draft of the resolution, calls for the "full withdrawal of Israel, the occupying power, from all of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, as rapidly as possible and to be fully completed within a specified timeframe, not to exceed November 2016."

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