Israel says 'no change' to Al-Aqsa status after Ramadan raids

Israel says 'no change' to Al-Aqsa status after Ramadan raids
Israel said it has 'no plans' of allowing Jewish worshippers to pray in the mosque compound, days after the Arab League accused it of fueling violence at the site.
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Settler violence and Israeli raids have disrupted Ramadan Friday prayers at al-Aqsa mosque and heightened tensions across Palestine and Gaza [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency via Getty]

Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid claimed on Sunday that Israel remained "committed" to the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, where hundreds of Palestinians have been injured in raids by Israeli security forces and settlers over the past fortnight.

"Muslims pray on the Temple Mount (Al-Aqsa), non-Muslims only visit," Lapid said at a press conference, using the Jewish term for the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is the holiest place in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam. "There is no change, there will be no change - we have no plans to divide the Temple Mount between religions." 

Lapid's comments follow a series of Israeli settler and security force raids on the Al-Aqsa compound in the last two weeks.

By long-standing tradition, Jews are allowed to visit the Al-Aqsa complex but not to pray at the site. But this year, the month of Ramadan coincided with Jewish Passover, during which Jewish settlers under police escort demanded to enter the mosque compound to worship.

The move angered many Palestinians, for whom Al-Aqsa is one of the last remaining sanctuaries in occupied Jerusalem, where Palestinian neighbourhoods are increasingly being taken over by Jewish settlers with the backing of Israeli authorities.

A high-level meeting between Israeli and Jordanian officials ito discuss Al-Aqsa is set to take place after the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Israeli media reported on Sunday.

Jordan controlled East Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967 and Jordan's royal Hashemite family has been the custodian of the holy sites in the occupied sector since 1924.

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The Arab League urged Israel on Thursday to stop allowing Jewish prayers at the site, saying this amounted to a provocation.

Tel Aviv announced on Saturday it would close the only crossing workers from the Gaza Strip can use to get to work in Israel, in retaliation for rockets shot from Gaza in protest of the violence against Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa.