Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Benjamin Netanyahu bans Israeli cabinet ministers and legislators from visiting Haram al-Sharif

By Cath And - October 08, 2015
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [al-Aqsa] [Jerusalem]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has banned all Israeli cabinet ministers and legislators from visiting Haram al-Sharif, the location of Al Aqsa mosque, in an apparent attempt to lower tensions in Jerusalem.

Reuters reports that a statement from the Prime Minister’s office says the move is aimed at "cooling things down around the Temple Mount [Haram al-Sharif].”

The ban, announced Wednesday evening, initially referred to only Jewish cabinet ministers and legislators but after facing criticism Netanyahu has this morning sought to expand the ban to Arab Knesset members, The Times of Israel reports.

Al Jazeera reports that Muslim members of the Knesset will still be able to access Al Aqsa mosque.

Netanyahu’s announcement comes after four  stabbing attacks in Jerusalem have killed two Israelis over the past week. Two of the Palestinian attackers were shot and killed on the scene, one shot and injured, and one arrested. A fifth attack was foiled by Israeli police on Wednesday evening.

Haram al-Sharif has served as a flashpoint for clashes in recent weeks after Israeli forces restricted the entrance of Muslim worshippers to the mosque, and allowed Jewish groups to tour the site.

Following the first two stabbing attacks on Saturday and Sunday, Israeli forces closed off the Old City of Jerusalem for at least 48 hours for everyone apart from Israeli citizens, residents of the area, tourists, business people and students of the Old City.

Alongside the closure of the Old City, Israeli forces prevented entrance to the mosque for all male Palestinian worshippers under the age of 50.

Thousands of protesters gathered at Netanyahu’s residence Monday, demanding increased security in Israel and the West Bank.

Isaac Herzog, the head of the Zionist Union, has described Netanyahu as "a weak prime minister who performs well as a theater actor but poorly as a leader."

Herzog added, "had we been in government, we would've known to calm the situation in Jerusalem a lot better.”

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