Israel eases restrictions for Palestinians as good will gesture for Muslim holiday

No age restrictions for Muslim worshipers at Temple Mount, but holy site to be closed to Jewish visitors.

September 24, 2015 05:20
2 minute read.
Muslims pray at Temple Mount

Muslims pray at Temple Mount. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has authorized a number of eased restrictions to Palestinian Muslims as a good will gesture ahead of the Eid al-Adha holiday which begins Thursday and continues until Tuesday next week.

As part of the eased restrictions, family visits in Israel will be allowed to married Palestinian couples who are residents of the West Bank on Thursday and Friday. Male West Bank Palestinians that are 45 and older, and women who are 30 and older will be given entry to pray at the Temple Mount on Thursday and Friday. Family from abroad will be permitted to visit West Bank Palestinians, who will also be allowed to travel abroad from Ben-Gurion Airport.

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The hours of border crossings will also be extended for Palestinians during the holiday.

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj.-Gen. Yoav "Poli" Mordechai informed senior Palestinian Authority officials and international officials of the good will gestures for the holiday. Civil Administration authorities explained the measures to the Palestinian population and instructed security forces operating in the territories on holiday customs.

Jerusalem Police announced that there would be no age restriction for Muslims with Israeli identification cards at the Temple Mount on Thursday. However, the holy site will be closed to Jewish visitors.

The Temple Mount has been a flash point for violence in Jerusalem in recent weeks, with Palestinians accusing Israel of violating their rights at the site which is holy to both Jews and Muslims.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "stop the chaos" at Al-Aksa mosque on the Temple Mount.

Following a meeting in Paris with French President Francois Hollande, the Palestinian leader said the situation in Jerusalem was "a very dangerous one that is liable to lead to an eruption of an intifada, which we are not interested in."

"It is the right of every Muslim to come pray at al Aksa mosque," the Palestinian leader said. "This mosque is exclusively the property of Muslims, and it is our right to reject any decision by the Israeli side to prevent Muslim access to it."

Abbas called on the international community to "defend the Christian and Muslim holy places" in the capital.

An Israeli official said in response on Wednesday that leaders in the Arab and Islamic world who talk about a supposed threat to the Aksa Mosque are “simply conducting incitement.”

“There is no such threat,” he said. “The Israeli government has reiterated over and over that the status quo will be scrupulously upheld, and the people who are propagating this mendacious charge should know that they are fomenting violence.”

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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