Israel Bans Islamic Movement Head Salah From Jerusalem

Head of Israeli Arab movement's northern chapter briefly arrested on charges of incitement to violence.

The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Tuesday ordered the release of one of the leaders of the Israeli Arab Islamic Movement, but restricted him from entering Jerusalem for 30 days.

Ra'ad Salah, the leader of the movement's northern chapter, was arrested earlier Tuesday on suspicion that he had incited to violence and incited riots, in light of remarks he had made recently.

The arrest came against the backdrop of heightened tension in Jerusalem's Old City and particularly at the holy site of Temple Mount, where Palestinians clashed with Israeli police officers over the course of several days.

On Monday, Salah told Haaretz that the clashes would last as long as Israel's "occupation" of the city and Al-Aqsa Mosque continued. He said the Israeli government must understand that using force does not grant it rights to Al-Aqsa Mosque or anywhere else in East Jerusalem, and that the key to achieving calm in the area is an Israeli "withdrawal."

"No one has rights to the Al-Aqsa Mosque other than the Muslims. The mosque compound is Muslim, Palestinian and Arab, and Israel has no rights to the mosque or East Jerusalem," he said.

Salah has been prohibited from entering the Temple Mount area for several months, and has been staying at a nearby residence while following developments. The Islamic Movement leader reiterated his call for Arabs within Israel's Green Line and in Jerusalem to protest beside the mount to "protect Al-Aqsa from the infiltration of extremist Jewish elements."

The arrest sparked outrage among Israeli Arab lawmakers, who called the move a politically motivated provocation. MK Taleb a-Sana (Raam-Taal) said that the decision to arrest Salah did nothing but exacerbate an already volatile situation. "I blame the police and its heads for the developments at al-Aqsa," he said.

"The arrest attests to the loss of sanity among the captains of the police, and their capitulation to political pressure," he continued. "The police chief must retain his composure and act responsibly and carefully, even during times of stress."

Following his arrest, the police issued a statement saying that it will continue to work tirelessly to preserve the freedom to practice any religion, and that it was operating on the basis of equality and maintaining the law and preventing extremists from harming Jerusalem's daily life.

Earlier Tuesday, the Islamic Movement vowed to continue its mandate of representing Muslims within Israel's borders, despite calls from several ministers to outlaw the organization.

Vice Premier Silvan Shalom was the first minister to make the call, accusing the movement of provoking the masses into violence. Salah and his deputy Kamel Hatib should both be arrested, Shalom told Israel Radio.

In response to the comments, a spokesman for the Islamic Movement said: "Those trying to take control of the Al-Aqsa Mosque need self-reflection... The Islamic Movement gets its legitimacy from its many supporters within the Green Line, and not from the Israeli establishment and people like Silvan Shalom."

The spokesman told Haaretz that the movement's leaders were not afraid of arrest, regardless of threats.

"We are a movement with deep roots and will continue to do our work and relay our messages," he said.

In his comments to Israel Radio, Shalom also blamed the Palestinian Authority for the recent flare ups, claiming it was trying to place East Jerusalem under its own jurisdiction.

"We must be decisive and act with a firm hand, or they will identify our weakness and intensify their actions," said Shalom.

Echoing Shalom's sentiment, National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau said on Monday that "Israel should stop paying the salaries of imams and mosque heads that incite against it."

Landau urged the government to hold a special session dealing with ending PA activities in Jerusalem, as well as act toward banishing its instructions from the capital.

"The incitement that encourages the stabbing of soldiers, the hurling of stones and disorderly conduct in general must be stopped," Landau said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Eli Yishai, also relating to alleged PA involvement in recent Jerusalem clashes, said that "the State of Israel is the only authority in Jerusalem and no force can qualify that."

"The anti-Jewish incitement coming from within Israel's borders and abroad cannot loosen the tie between the people of Israel and its capital and the need to secure and strengthen it," Yishai added.