JERUSALEM: The Israeli government is allowing Jews to conduct prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, also known to Jews as the Temple Mount, in a move that risks shifting the site’s status quo, The New York Times reported.
In a story published on Tuesday, the Times said Rabbi Yehudah Glick made “little effort to hide his prayers” and was even live streaming them.
The area is in Jerusalem’s walled Old City and part of the territory Israel captured in a 1967 Middle East war. Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1980 in a step that was never recognized by the international community.
Since 1967, Jordan and Israel agreed that the Waqf, or the Islamic trust, would have control over matters inside the compound, while Israel would control external security. Non-Muslims would be allowed onto the site during visiting hours, but would not be allowed to pray there.
According to the Times, Glick, a US-born, right-wing former lawmaker, has been leading efforts to change the status quo for decades, and said he characterises his effort as a matter of “religious freedom”. Other rising movements, such as the Temple Mount Faithful and the Temple Institute, have also challenged the Israeli government’s ban on allowing Jews to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
The formal arrangement agreed on by Jordan and Israel is in place is to avoid conflict at the flashpoint site. But Israeli forces routinely allow groups, some in the hundreds, of Jewish settlers who live in occupied Palestinian territories to descend on the Al-Aqsa compound under police and army protection, stirring Palestinian fears of an Israeli takeover.