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PA Minister of Religious Affairs: Israel pretends to look for “alleged antiquities” but seeks to change the status quo

Headline: "The [PA] Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Mufti warned against an escalation of the invasions of the Al-Aqsa Mosque"

"[PA] Minister of Religious Affairs Yusuf Ida'is and [PA] Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories Sheikh Muhammad Hussein warned against an increased escalation of the invasions of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the [Muslim fasting] month of Ramadan.
The Minister of Religious Affairs and the Mufti emphasized during their meeting yesterday [June 28, 2017] at the headquarters of the Ministry of Religious Affairs that the escalating and severe Israeli plans against Jerusalem, which are expressed in the continuation of their attempts to interfere in matters of the Jerusalem Noble Sanctuary (i.e., the Temple Mount), the increased excavations under the Al-Aqsa Mosque under the pretext of searching for alleged antiquities, and the increased settlement plans in Jerusalem, are an attempt to change the status quo at the Jerusalem Noble Sanctuary."

The PA and its leaders consider all of the Temple Mount an integral part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Therefore they view any presence of Jews on the mount as an "invasion." It should be noted that Jews who visit the Temple Mount only enter some sections of the open areas, and do not enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque or the Dome of the Rock.

The Israeli daily Haaretz has stated that the excavations do not reach beneath the mosque:
"The diggers are painstaking to respect the dignity of the Temple Mount. Despite complaints from the Islamic Movement and Palestinian groups, not a single dig penetrates beneath the mount." [Haaretz, May 24, 2016]