PA Minister: Hand Temple Mount Over to Global Islamic Group

Islamic Movement: Plan to tranfer control to third party would continue occupation, must be rejected.

The newly appointed minister for Jerusalem affairs in the Palestinian Authority cabinet, Hatem Abdel Khader, has released a statement Monday noting that he favors transferring control of the Temple Mount to the 57-member Islamic Conference Organization in the framework of an Israel-PA peace agreement.

Haaretz reported last week on the P.A.'s willingness to transfer control of the Temple Mount to the organization. "The most important thing is to end the Israeli occupation," Abdel Khader also said.

PA president Mahmoud Abbas is to meet Thursday in Washington with President Barack Obama, in their first meeting since Obama took office.

The northern branch of the Islamic Movement, however, blasted the week before the proposal to relinquish sovereignty over the Temple Mount.

"The proposal to transfer sovereignty to a third state stems from the attempted to internationalize the Al Aqsa Mosque, and actually this is a proposal whose significance is the continuation of the occupation; therefore, such a proposal must be aggressively rejected," the Israeli Arab group said in a statement.

Palestinian sources have said the PA would accept the management of the site by the Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Conference, whose 57 member states include Iran, as part of a final-status peace agreement.