CAIRO, Egypt — The head of the Arab League warned Thursday that Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount, since removed, risk igniting a “religious war.”
Israel’s actions are “playing with fire, and will only ignite a religious war and shift the core of the conflict from politics to religion,” Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit said.
He was speaking at an urgent meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on the latest violence in Jerusalem.
“I invite the occupying state (Israel) to carefully learn the lessons from this crisis and the message it holds,” Abul Gheit said in a televised speech.
“Handling holy sites lightly and with this level of arrogance seriously threatens to ignite a religious war, since not one single Muslim in the world would accept the desecration of (Jerusalem’s) Al-Aqsa mosque,” he said.
Protests and deadly unrest have erupted in the days since Israel installed new metal detectors outside the entrance to the Temple Mount, following a July 14 terror attack in which three terrorists shot dead two Israeli police officers with weapons they had smuggled onto the holy site.
The Arab League “condemns in the strongest terms Israel’s plans and policies that aim to Judaize the occupied city of Jerusalem and distort its Arab and Muslim character,” the foreign ministers said in their closing statement.
“East Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state,” the organization said, “expressing its rejection and condemnation of all measures by the occupying force to diminish Palestinian rights of sovereignty over it.”
Israeli police and Palestinians clashed Thursday as thousands of Muslim worshipers entered the compound, ending a boycott after Israel removed the new security measures.