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Shaikh Raed Salah 'refused to meet Israeli prime minister' before release

Image of Sheikh Raed Salah (2nd R) at his welcoming ceremony, after he was released from Israeli prison, in Israel on January 17 2017 [Mostafa Alkharouf/ Anadolu Agency]
Image of Sheikh Raed Salah (2nd R) at his welcoming ceremony, after he was released from Israeli prison, in Israel on January 17 2017 [Mostafa Alkharouf/ Anadolu Agency]

The leader of the banned Islamic Movement in Israel, Shaikh Raed Salah, said on Tuesday that he had refused to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Interior Minister Aryeh Deri prior to his release from prison, Felesteen newspaper has reported. He left prison on Tuesday morning.

Speaking to supporters in Umm Al-Fahm who had gathered to celebrate his release, Shaikh Raed revealed that Israeli intelligence officers proposed that he meet with Netanyahu or Deri, but he rejected both meetings. "Last Thursday, they moved me to the centre of the military courts [north of the West Bank] and there I met an [Israeli] intelligence officer," he said. "For three hours, he asked me why I have said that Al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger. My response was: I am still saying Al-Aqsa is in danger."

He explained that he was told his speech is important. It was during this lengthy session that officers asked about arranging a meeting with Netanyahu. "I told them that I am not ready to meet with him. Then, they said: what about a meeting with Interior Minister Aryeh Deri? I said that I do not trust him."

Shaikh Raed Salah is known as "Shaikh Al-Aqsa" for his passionate defence of the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa against incursions and threats from extremist Jewish groups. He believes that the proposed meetings were intended to discuss the situation of Al-Aqsa Mosque. "I told them that Al-Aqsa is not a subject for talks," he said. "No talks about Al-Aqsa Mosque."

After the meeting with the intelligence officers, he pointed out, the Israeli police produced an indictment against him which included incitement and working with a banned organisation. "This suggests that they [the intelligence officers] prompted the indictment," he noted.

"Today, Allah has blessed me with freedom from prison," Shaikh Raed concluded. "Yesterday, they told me I am banned from travel. In other words, I am banned from entering Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque. I say to them: you will never beat us. We will continue adopting our Islamic, Arabic and Palestinian positions until we die."

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