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Jordan intervenes to prevent Israeli minister's visit to Al-Aqsa

July 20, 2018 11:29 A.M. (Updated: July 20, 2018 2:44 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan intervened to prevent the Israeli Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Uri Ariel from visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque, on Friday.

According to Hebrew-language news outlets, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to a request made by the Jordanian government to prevent Ariel from visiting the Islamic holy site in East Jerusalem.

Sources added that Ariel had requested to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque on Sunday, but that his request was rejected by Netanyahu after Jordan’s intervention.

Earlier this month, Ariel had already visited the compound along with another Israeli Knesset member.

This visit was made following Netanyahu's decision to allow members of the Israeli Knesset, mostly right-wing extremists who support the demolition of the Islamic site in order to build a Jewish temple instead, to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque once every three months.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque. The third holiest site in Islam, it is also venerated as Judaism's most holy place, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.

While Jewish visitation is permitted to the compound, non-Muslim worship at Al-Aqsa is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.

Despite the agreement with Jordan -- which is the custodian of Al-Aqsa -- Israeli authorities regularly allow Jewish visitors to enter the site, often under armed guard. Such visits are typically made by right-wingers attempting to unsettle the status quo at the site, and coincide with restrictions on Palestinian access, including bans on entrance and detentions.

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