A member of the Bahraini royal family said Sunday his delegation visited Jerusalem’s Temple Mount on Friday without revealing their identity to the Muslim authority that administers the holy site for fear of being attacked by Palestinians, saying barring people from praying there was a “new form of terror.”
“If we had told them where we were from, they would have prevented us from going up [to the site],” Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa told Army Radio, referring to the Islamic Waqf which has exclusive authority over the Temple Mount compound.
Khalifa, who was leading a Bahraini delegation in Israel, told The Jerusalem Post he feared attacks from Palestinians.
The recent U.S.-brokered normalization deals between Israel and Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan, drew fierce condemnation from Palestinians. Last month, a delegation of Emiratis visited Israel and were accosted as they toured the Temple Mount by hoards of Palestinians who shouted out insults and called for their “expulsion” from the holy site.
“It is unacceptable to prevent anyone from any religion from praying. This is a new form of terror,” Khalifa said.
The Temple Mount, marks the spot where both the First and the Second Jewish Temple stood and is the holiest site in Judaism. Today the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock Shrine are located there and the site is considered the third holiest in Islam. Jews visiting the site are routinely arrested for violating the rule prohibiting non-Muslim prayer with the utterance of Jewish verses or prostration.
“No one owns the mosques,” Khalifa said.
Abbas’ Fatah Calls for ‘Escalation’ to Counter Bahrain Workshop https://t.co/jTvSjc5Url
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Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh doesn’t agree. Last month, he slammed the UAE visit, saying: “One ought to enter the gates of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque by way of its owners, rather than through the gates of the occupation.”
In the wake of the normalization deals, the Palestinian Authority mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, issued a fatwa (Islamic ruling) barring Muslims officials from those countries from praying at al-Aqsa Mosque.
“Al-Aqsa doesn’t belong just to the Palestinians, it belongs to the whole Muslim world. It can’t be that you tell people who normalized [relations] with Israel that they can’t pray in Jerusalem,” Khalifa said.
Khalifa, who serves as chairman for the King Hamad Global Center for Peaceful Coexistence, said his country was surprised to discover the tolerance and freedom for all religions in Israel.
“In the past, we thought that Israel is for Jews only. We came here and found it to be the opposite. There definitely is coexistence, there is acceptance of the other. After all, the Muslims or the Bahais, if they felt oppression or prevention of their religious worship, they would leave Israel,” Al Khalifa said.
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