Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has again accused Israel of attempting to “Judaize” the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Addressing a meeting that he initiated of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on Monday, Abbas also attacked Israel for expanding settlements, the Iranian Press TV new site reported.
The Mount, sanctified by Jews as the place where the Jewish temples stood in biblical times, is the location of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest shrine in Islam.
Tensions at the tinderbox site were one of the main catalysts for the current round of Palestinian violence in Israel and the West Bank, in which 29 Israelis and three foreign nationals have been killed since October. Some 180 Palestinians have also been killed, about two-thirds of them while attacking Israelis and the rest during clashes with troops, according to the Israeli army.
In a November statement marking the United Nations’ International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Abbas said he had cautioned against “violations committed by the settlers and extremists under the protection of the Israeli occupying forces against the sanctity of Christian and Muslim holy places in Jerusalem, particularly aimed at changing the historic status quo at Al-Haram Al-Sharif [the Temple Mount] and Al-Aqsa Mosque that existed before the year 1967 and thereafter.”
That was despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge in late October to retain intact the banning of non-Muslim prayer on the Mount.
Indonesia’s president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who heads the most populous Muslim nation, told the OIC conference that the entire world is concerned by the deterioration of the situation in the Palestinian territories and criticized what he called Israel’s “unilateral and illegal policies.”
“The OIC should be part of the solution, and not part of the problem,” Jokowi said in opening remarks. “If the OIC cannot be part of the solution to Palestine, then the OIC becomes irrelevant.”
Officials from 57 countries were meeting in the Indonesian capital along with representatives of the Middle East quartet and permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Among those present is Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes allegations linked to the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.
Israel says the recent surge in violence is a result of a Palestinian campaign of lies and incitement. Palestinians say it stems from frustration over nearly five decades of Israeli military rule.