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PA Religious Affairs Ministry: Israel plans to take control of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is “a purely Islamic waqf”

Headline: "The [PA] Ministry of Religious Affairs condemned the clearing of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and called to stop the attack against it"

"The [PA] Ministry of Religious Affairs condemned the fact that the occupation forces removed the worshippers and those carrying out Ribat (i.e., religious conflict over land claimed to be Islamic) from the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque yesterday evening, Thursday [Aug. 15, 2019] (following a stabbing attack –Ed.), 'in a new provocative step that was added to the previous steps, and which comes as part of attempts to establish a division according to areas and times within the Al-Aqsa Mosque (see note below –Ed.) as a prelude to taking control of it.' 

It also emphasized that 'the statements of the occupation's senior officials calling to secure [the Al-Aqsa Mosque] and violate the status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque which is a purely Islamic waqf (i.e., an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law) as recognized by UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) – are not far from these provocative steps that call to defy the sensibilities of the Muslims throughout the world.'"

Nassim Abu Roumi and Hamouda Al-Sheikh – 14-year-old Palestinian terrorists who stabbed and wounded an Israeli police officer at the Chain Gate of the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem on Aug. 15, 2019. Abu Roumi and Al-Sheikh were shot and killed during the attack; a Waqf guard bystander was wounded by the gunfire.

Division according to areas and times” refers to a submission of a “private bill” by Israeli MP Uri Ariel in March 2003. The bill suggested ensuring freedom of religious worship by allowing both Jews and Muslims to pray on the Temple Mount - what the Palestinians call the Al-Aqsa Mosque plaza. The bill sought to designate separate prayer times and areas of the site for Muslims and Jews. The bill never progressed past the initial legislatory stage. While there was additional discussion on the subject in 2012, no legislation was ever passed. In response to the incessant PA claims that the “division according to areas and times” of the Temple Mount is an operative Israeli plan, former Israeli PM Netanyahu stated on many occasions that the Israeli government has no intention of ‎changing the so-called status quo on the Temple Mount, which de facto is interpreted to mean Jews are only allowed to enter the Temple Mount, but not to conduct individual or communal prayers there. In July 2021, Israeli PM Naftali Bennett said Muslims and Jews have freedom of worship at the Temple Mount, which was understood by many as a hint to changing the status quo at the site, but the following day his office backtracked and said he misspoke and did not mean Jews would have freedom of worship, but rather would have freedom to visit. “There is no change in the status quo,” a statement from PM Bennett’s office confirmed.y type of worship.

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