Right-wing Israeli MK enters Aqsa compound
Published Wednesday 19/02/2014 (updated) 19/02/2014 12:53
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli member of the Knesset entered the Al-Aqsa compound early Wednesday escorted by Israeli police, a Palestinian official said.
Azzam al-Khatib, the director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, told Ma'an that right-wing MK Moshe Feiglin arrived at the Al-Aqsa compound at 8:15 a.m. and entered through the Moroccan gate.
Feiglin toured the eastern quarter of the compound and stood at the courtyard of the Dome of the Rock, al-Khatib said.
A cameraman followed him throughout the tour, which lasted a half hour, al-Khatib said.
He said Feiglin was heard saying that the Al-Aqsa Mosque belongs to the Jews.
Feiglin, head of the "Jewish Leadership" faction of Israel's Likud party, had initiated a Knesset debate scheduled for Tuesday, calling for full Israeli sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa compound, without Jordanian oversight. However, Israeli media reported that the debate would be postponed.
Due to the sensitive nature of the Al-Aqsa mosque, Israel maintains a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls the compound -- overseen by Jordan -- to restrict the area for Muslim prayers.
Israeli forces, however, regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, often leading to tension with Palestinians.
The compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque and is the third holiest site in Islam.
It is also venerated as Judaism's most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
According to mainstream Jewish religious leaders, Jews are forbidden from entering for fear they would profane the "Holy of Holies," or the inner sanctum of the Second Temple.
Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories that have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.