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Glick petitions court to lift ban on MK visits to Al-Aqsa

Image of ultraright Israeli lawmaker [basemn63 /Twitter]
Image of ultraright Israeli lawmaker [basemn63 /Twitter]

Ultraright Israeli lawmaker Yehuda Glick has petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to reverse a ban preventing members of the Israeli Knesset from visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.

Glick, a prominent far-right "Temple Mount activist", has joined settlers to storm the mosque's grounds to perform religious rituals and prayers, a practice Palestinians say is an attempt to challenge long-standing international agreements prohibiting Jewish worship at the holy site.

Read: Scores of settlers raid Al-Aqsa Mosque

His petition targeted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a fellow Likud party member, who issued the ban in 2015, seeking to ease tensions at the compound amid a wave of political unrest that erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory.

Image of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem [Muammar Awad/Apaimages]

Image of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem [Muammar Awad/Apaimages]

According to Israeli daily Haaretz, Netanyahu decided on Monday that the ban, which affects both Jewish and Arab MKs, would be gradually phased out in three months, if security conditions permitted.

Glick told Haaretz on Tuesday that he had no doubt Netanyahu's remarks were meant to preempt his appeal, and said that he would have cancelled the petition had Netanyahu called him and offered to work on a solution together.

"We want to visit Temple Mount [Al-Aqsa Mosque compound], and the police have said for nine months that there are no security considerations preventing this. Anyone visiting the Mount sees that quiet has returned to the place, and political and diplomatic reasons do not justify the continued ban. It is illogical that the whole world can go there, just not MKs."

Glick argued in his petition that the reasons for the continuation of the ban were political; claiming that security officials had already concluded there is no danger in lawmakers visiting the area.

His petition asserted that the prohibition restricts lawmakers' freedom of worship and movement and violates immunity clauses in the Basic Law on the Knesset.

Despite Glick's claims of a "quiet" return to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, provocative visits by right-wing Israelis have continued, resulting in severe restrictions on movement for Palestinians, as Palestinian political and religious leadership have continued to issue warnings of tensions at the site.

Read more:  Al-Aqsa guards stop Israelis from stealing ancient monuments in occupied Jerusalem

Most recently, Israeli police detained 10 Palestinian security guards at the compound on Monday, after guards prevented an Israeli archaeologist from trying to remove an old stone from an underground section below the Al-Qibli Mosque.

Al-Aqsa compound director Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani told Ma'an at the time that the guards had only done their job and had not committed any offense to justify their detentions, though Israeli police reportedly accused the guards of "attacking" them, according to Al Jazeera.

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Hussein called the incident "unacceptable", telling Al Jazeera: "I believe the Israeli police are trying to impose a new reality and are trying to intimidate the Al-Aqsa guards and to stop them from carrying out their duty."

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