17 October 2018
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official Adnan Husseini said Sunday that Israel “is giving an official cover to its plans to control” Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Husseini, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, made the remarks in response to the participation of an Israeli minister in a tour by a group of settlers into the holy site.
The tour was considered by Palestinians “an incursion.”
Husseini told Xinhua that “Israel’s plans to take over Al-Aqsa Mosque are now taking a more official trend, which means it is entering a new dangerous phase that we must deal with more seriously.”
“The Israeli government used to justify the incursions saying they are held by extremist settlers, but now what is happening is incursions by officials, ministers and Knesset (parliament) members are taking part,” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided last June to allow Knesset, or parliament members and ministers to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque once every three months after a two-year ban.
Tensions have been mounting in east Jerusalem since the Israeli high court ruled in favor of a decision requiring Netanyahu to justify the ban on Jewish prayers inside Al-Aqsa Mosque.
A long standing status-quo understanding stipulates that non-Muslims are allowed to visit the Al-Aqsa mosque but not to pray inside it.
Palestinians consider daily incursions into the Masjid as a step towards allowing settlers to hold their prayers at the Islamic site.