UAE-Israeli normalisation deal 'allows Jewish worshippers to pray' at Al-Aqsa compound: report

UAE-Israeli normalisation deal 'allows Jewish worshippers to pray' at Al-Aqsa compound: report
A clause of the UAE-Israel agreement changes the sensitive status of Al-Aqsa compound and may have 'people of all faiths' praying there.
2 min read
31 August, 2020
The UAE-Israeli deal allows Jews to pray at the al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem [Getty]
Jewish worshippers may be able to pray at the Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem, according to the normalisation deal between the UAE and Israel, which has changed the sensitive status of the holy site, a report by an Israeli NGO warned on Monday.

The wording of a joint statement agreed by US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed implied that non-Muslims can pray at the Al-Aqsa compound, a report by Terrestrial Jerusalem said, despite the UAE having no authority over Islam's third holiest site.

The statement, which was condemned by Palestinians, stated: "All Muslims who come in peace may visit and pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Jerusalem's other holy sites should remain open for peaceful worshippers of all faiths."

Terrestrial Jerusalem, which tracks political developments in Jerusalem that could spark violence or impact political processes, said that the terminology used in the statement was an intentional attempt to open Al-Aqsa compound - also known as Temple Mount, for Jewish prayers and change its current status.

"It is not too late to insist that this wording be removed and that there be a renewed commitment, unambiguous in its clarity, by both Israel and the United States to the traditional interpretation of the status quo, and specifically regarding Jewish prayer on the Mount," the report suggested.

Following the 1967 war, Israel and Jordan - the custodian of Al-Aqsa mosque - agreed that Jews would be given the right to peacefully visit the compound but would not be allowed to pray there.

The Western Wall was to remain the Jewish place of prayer in Jerusalem.

Israel's agreement to establish diplomatic ties with the UAE marks a watershed moment in its relations with Arab countries, but the Palestinians say it puts a just resolution to the Middle East conflict even farther out of reach. 

The UAE presented its decision to upgrade longstanding ties to Israel last month as a way of encouraging peace efforts by taking Israel's planned annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank off the table, something Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swiftly rebuffed by insisting the pause was "temporary".

The deal was met with condemnation from Palestinians and their leadership, who have dismissed it as tantamount to "treason" and "a stab in the back". 

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