October 22, 2015 Special Dispatch No. 6196

Palestinian Authority: Complaints About Israeli Changes To Al-Aqsa Status Quo Refer To Changes Made Since The Year 2000, Not Today

October 22, 2015
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 6196

In recent days there has been a change in the repeated allegations by the Palestinian Authority (PA) that Israel is trying to divide prayer times and locations at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound between Jews and Muslims - a claim that contributed to the recent surge in violence. It seems that, following the Israeli government's response to this claim, namely Prime Minister Netanyahu's assertion that Israel has not and will not change the status quo at Al-Aqsa, 'Abbas felt that the PA's allegations were received with mistrust. Thus, at an October 21, 2015 press conference he held after his meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, 'Abbas said that the Palestinian complaints do not refer to changes made recently to the status quo, but rather to changes made since the year 2000, when then-prime minister Ariel Sharon visited Al-Aqsa, and therefore Netanyahu's denials were moot. 'Adnan Al-Husseini, the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, explained that returning to the pre-2000 status quo meant restoring the Waqf's exclusive management of the Al-Aqsa compound.

The following are excerpts from recent statements on this issue by 'Abbas and Al-Husseini.

At a press conference held with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, 'Abbas said: "The ongoing occupation and the harm it inflicts on Christian and Muslim holy sites in East Jerusalem, particularly the Al-Aqsa Mosque, could spark a bitter religious conflict, which has already begun in practice. We do not desire it and we warn of its consequences. It is our duty to stress the need to preserve the historic status quo rather than the status quo imposed by Israel since 2000. Netanyahu errs in saying that he respects the status quo. This is false. The status quo that existed previously was adopted in 1967. We are speaking of that historic status quo, and not the one imposed by Sharon in 2000 when he invaded the Al-Aqsa Mosque."[1]

'Abbas and Ban (Image:, October 21, 2015)

'Adnan Al-Husseini, PA Jerusalem Affairs Minister and governor of Jerusalem, who served as supervisor of the Islamic Waqf, told the PA daily Al-Ayyam on October 22: "The status quo means that the Waqf is responsible for everything that happens in the 144 dunam [35.5 acre] Al-Aqsa compound. The Waqf was responsible for letting tourists into the mosque compound according to the 'foreign tourist visitor plan.' The mosque guards would escort tourists around the compound, and [the tourists] would pay for admission tickets. They were required to abide by a dress code mandated by the Waqf, and those who came dressed immodestly were given a modest cover to use while visiting.

"The status quo means that the Waqf is in charge of renovating the mosque and its surroundings without interference by any element. It is responsible for opening and closing all the gates to the mosque, while the police's responsibility is limited to the external compound gates and it does not interfere with the Muslim worshipers at the mosque. The Israeli authorities' interference in Waqf affairs began with an attempt to directly interfere in the renovations the Waqf was carrying out in the mosque. The Waqf protested and continues to strongly protest this. It fully objects to any Israeli interference in its affairs, and has repeatedly protested all Israeli violations.

"When Ariel Sharon stormed into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in September 2000, the Islamic Waqf decided to close the mosque to visiting tourists due to the situation created by Sharon's provocation, which caused the outbreak of the second intifada, also called the Al-Aqsa Intifada.

"In 2003, despite Waqf objections, Israel unilaterally ordered the Mughrabi Gate opened to non-Muslims, which we see as an incursion as it was done without the Waqf's consent. The Waqf officially protested these provocations, but Israel did not heed the Waqf and continued its violations. After the Mughrabi Gate was opened unilaterally, the Israeli police accompanied non-Muslim visitors, especially Israeli settlers, when they barged into the mosque compound, and began limiting the age of Muslim worshipers, even preventing Muslims from being there at all during the settler incursions. It also attacked [Muslim] worshipers and prevented dozens of women from entering, and even issued orders preventing men and women from entering the mosque. The police even closed the mosque gates during incursions [by Jewish visitors] and chased worshipers inside the mosque. The incursions began in small numbers, which steadily increased, to the point that the prime minister's office allowed 12,000 settlers to barge into the mosque compound last year.

"In light of all these changes that Israel is trying to make to the status quo, the Israeli prime minister is not telling the truth when he speaks of maintaining the status quo in the mosque. The status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque can only be maintained if the Waqf's full authority over Al-Aqsa is restored, and if its affairs are not interfered with."[2]





[1], October 21, 2015.

[2] Al-Ayyam (PA), October 22, 2015.

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