Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman lashed out at Mahmoud Abbas for his Al-Aqsa Mosque comments, accusing the Palestinian Authority president of incitement and comparing him to the Islamic State and other extremist Islamic organizations. “Abu Mazen [Abbas] is trying to ignite the area by using the most sensitive place, the Temple Mount,” Lieberman said on Saturday night. “Abu Mazen and the Palestinian Authority are the ones behind the riots of East Jerusalem residents,” he charged.
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Lieberman said Abbas’ speech on Friday - in which he called for the defense of the Al-Aqsa Mosque against Israel – reveals the Palestinian president as “a Holocaust denier who talks about a Palestinian state clean of Jews.”
"Behind his suit and polite statements to the international community, he was and remains an anti-Semite who incites against Israel and the Jews and calls for war like the extremist Islamic organizations, the Islamic State and the Al-Nusra Front,” said Lieberman.
Speaking in in the West Bank town of al-Bireh, Abbas stated on Friday that the holy site was being desecrated by settlers and that a continued Palestinian presence is required there to protect it. "This is our mosque and they have no right to enter it and defile it,” he said.
Abbas made his remarks on Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa two days after Hamas political bureau head Khaled Meshal came out with a similar call. This seems to indicate the beginning of a political struggle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority over control of the mood and presence in the Al-Aqsa Mosque area. Raed Salah, head of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, is also taking part in events in the mosque.
Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman in the West Bank Saed Abu Baha called on the Palestinian reconciliation government of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to investigate the conduct of the Palestinian security agencies following the dispersal of demonstrators in the West Bank on Friday, in what was to be a protest against developments at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Abu Baha said the movement had received a permit for the march, and so preventing it constituted a severe breach of freedom of expression, particularly against demonstrations that are supposed to be within the Palestinian consensus.
In Gaza, Hamas also accused the Palestinian Authority of harassing its activists in the West Bank. A statement issued by Hamas said PA police forces forcibly dispersed rallies organized by Hamas in Nablus, Hebron and Ramallah and detained some of its men.