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Palestinian officials condemn “attack” and “break-in” of Jews visiting the Temple Mount; Israel plans to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque

Headline: "Widespread condemnations of the settlers' break-ins into the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the holiday and calls to defend our people – holding the Israeli government responsible and calls to make it [honor] international law and stop its systematic attacks against the holy sites"

"The break-in of hundreds of settlers into the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque on the morning of the blessed Eid Al-Adha (i.e., the Sacrifice Feast), with the protection of the Israeli occupation police and with an attack against the [Muslim] worshippers (referring to Israelis entering the Temple Mount for Tisha B'Av that fell on the same day, riots held there to prevent them from doing so, and Israel's response to the riots –Ed.) received widespread local, Arab, and international resistance and condemnation, and calls to provide international protection for our people and to take the government of Israel to account regarding its sponsoring the settlers' terror, and regarding its harming international law, and to hold it fully responsible for the consequences of these attacks whose goal is to ignite a religious conflict and shuffle the cards in the region…

PLO Executive Committee member [and head of the PLO Department of Diplomacy and Public Policy] Hanan Ashrawi condemned the settlers’ recurring break-ins into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, especially on the first day of blessed Eid Al-Adha.

She said in a statement on behalf of the Executive Committee: 'The goal of the recurring systematic break-ins that the extremist settlers are committing in the religious holy sites, under protection of the Israeli security institutions, is to create a provocation against our people’s religious and nationalistic sensibilities, to arouse ideological and political zealousness, and to push the region and the entire world in the direction of more violence, extremism, and terror.

She held the government of Israel fully responsible for these hostile and barbaric actions… She pointed out that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and his extremist government are directing these attacks and protecting them in order to normalize turning the Al-Aqsa Mosque and holy sites into places they can do with as they wish and in order to impose a religious aspect on the political conflict and a permanent situation of break-ins into the holy sites… in order to reach a division of area and time at the Al-Aqsa Mosque (see note below –Ed.).

The [PA] Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates demanded that the international community and the Arab and Islamic worlds act quickly in order to defend the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque from the plot that threatens it, and to take the necessary steps to protect it from the recurring Israeli attempts to establish its division according to times, and in the end its physical division…

[The ministry] warned that the occupation is acting in order to provide space to hold the settlers' Talmudic (i.e., Jewish) ceremonies as a first step in the direction of the occupation of the entire Al-Aqsa Mosque, and afterwards its destruction…

PLO Executive Committee member and Head of the Department of Human Rights and Civil Society Ahmed Sa'id Al-Tamimi emphasized that the break-in of hundreds of settlers and the armed Israeli occupation forces into the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque today (Sunday) [Aug. 11, 2019] and the attack against worshippers on the first day of Eid Al-Adha will drag the region into much violence and towards consequences that will not end well. This is because of the situation of tension in the Palestinian street following the occupation's pressure and its contempt for all of the peace agreements, in the shadow of ongoing American cover for all of the attacks of the occupation and its settlers."

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” or a "break-in." 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. Israeli police ban Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount because of threats of violence by Palestinians.

Tisha B'Av 2019 – Muslims rioted on the Temple Mount on Aug. 11, 2019, for the express purpose of preventing Jews from going up to the site on Tisha B'Av (see note below), and were explicitly incited to do so by PA leaders such as PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Advisor on Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash, who two days prior posted a call on his Facebook page for Muslims in Jerusalem to postpone their holiday observance to the second day of the holiday so that "people will be available to carry out Ribat at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to resist the Israeli plan to invade the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the first day of the holiday (i.e. Tisha B' Av)," adding "Our mosque is our Ribat and the Al-Aqsa Mosque is our Jihad."

"Division according to areas and times" refers to a proposed law (May 2013) being reviewed in Israeli Parliament that would allow for both Jews and Muslims to pray on the Temple Mount, what the Palestinians call the Al-Aqsa Mosque plaza. The law seeks to designate separate prayer times and areas of the site for Muslims and Jews. However, Israeli PM Netanyahu has stated on many occasions that the Israeli government has no intention of ‎changing the status quo on the Temple Mount, which means Jews are allowed to enter the Temple Mount, but cannot pray there or engage in any type of worship.

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