Officials in the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel on Wednesday dismissed what they described as attempts by the Israeli government and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch to harm to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, be it by continued visits by settlers in an attempt to create facts on the ground or by any legislation.
Haaretz reported Sunday that Aharonovitch is advancing a bill to outlaw the organization of Palestinian guards stationed on the Temple Mount to block entry by Jews.
Senior officials in the Islamic Movement told Haaretz that the movement is used to such declarations and plans, from threatening to outlaw the Islamic Movement to closing its institutions with executive orders by the internal security minister, as happened a number of months ago with Imarat Al-Aqsa, which promotes projects related to Al-Aqsa and other holy places across Israel. None of these moves, they observed, stopped hundreds of thousands of Muslim believers from visiting the mosque every day.
Zahi Nujeidat, a spokesman for the Islamic Movement said Sunday that it seems that Aharonovitch and his cronies are permitting themselves to do everything in an all-out war.
"It is the occupation that is illegal, and it is the occupation that needs to be removed from Al-Aqsa Mosque," he said. "It looks like Aharonovitch wants Al-Aqsa Mosque to be rid of all Muslims, and that will never happen."
Islamic Movement officials declined to comment on details that were reported, mainly the whole logistical and economic issue involved in this project, and remarked that the matter won't end up in court.
The Islamic Waqf in Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian Authority have not issued an official response. Sheikh Omar Al-Kiswani, the Palestinian director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, said the Israeli move, as published, constitutes a flagrant violation of freedom of worship. Speaking to Radio Al-Shams in Nazareth, Al-Kiswani said that tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of people are in Al-Aqsa every day to pray and learn.
"We're talking about Muslims who fulfill the commandment to pray and learn, and any harm done to them is harm done to freedom of worship and the right to pray," he said. "It's impossible to accept this logic, by which Israel will determine which Muslims will enter and which Muslims will stay outside. We, as people of the Waqf who hold positions in the mosque compound do not differentiate between Muslims, and it does not interest us how they arrive, because for us it is a basic right to visit the holy place and pray. Israel as the occupying power has no right to prevent Muslims from entering the compound."