PLO official warns "against the consequences of the incessant Israeli violations at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the attempts to divide it"
Headline: “The occupation turns the Gate of Mercy into a military base, arrests three women, and distances worshippers from the Al-Aqsa Mosque”
“PLO Executive Committee member [and Head of the PLO Department of Diplomacy and Public Policy] Hanan Ashrawi said: ‘The Israeli escalation in Jerusalem is a translation into action of America’s illegal and immoral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, of the transfer of its embassy to it, and of its absolute support for [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s extremist government, which is systematically and deliberately striving to drag the region into a religious war.’
In statements that she gave yesterday [Feb. 19, 2019] on behalf of the Executive Committee, she warned against the consequences of the incessant Israeli violations at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the attempts to divide it according to times and areas. The latest of these was the closure of its gates yesterday, and particularly the closure of the Gate of Mercy with iron chains (a compound near the Gate of Mercy was closed after the Jordanian Waqf violated a court order by reopening it; see note below –Ed.).”
US recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel - On Dec. 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Trump added that the final borders of Jerusalem will be determined during negotiations. The US embassy was transferred from Tel Aviv and opened in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018, the anniversary of Israel's declaration of independence in 1948 according to the Gregorian calendar.
"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.
February 2019 Temple Mount clashes – Muslim riots broke out on the Temple Mount starting Feb. 18, 2019, after the Israeli police closed a compound near the Gate of Mercy after the Jordanian Waqf had violated an Israeli court order by reopening the compound the previous week. The compound was ordered sealed in 2017 given that it was managed by the banned Islamic Movement in Israel and used for illegal construction and antiquities destruction.