Pan-Muslim body slams ‘dangerous escalation’ at Al Aqsa

Israel's parliament debates taking over Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque compound, sparking protests.

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JEDDAH // The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Wednesday condemned as a “dangerous escalation” a debate by Israel’s parliament to take over Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque compound.

The group’s secretary general, Iyad Madani, described the move as “a dangerous and unprecedented step that comes as part of Israel’s racist policy ... aiming to Judaise Jerusalem”.

Urging world action against Israel, Mr Madani warned that the move “provokes the feelings of the whole Muslim nation”.

The Knesset on Tuesday began a debate called by right-wingers to demand that Israel take control of the compound to end its practice of forbidding Jewish prayer there.

Al Aqsa compound, which lies in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem’s Old City, is a flashpoint because of its significance to both Muslims and Jews. The compound, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina. It is also Judaism’s holiest place, being the site of the first and second Jewish temples.

Jordan was given a “special” role over the area in a 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

Jordan’s prime minister, Abdullah Nsur, said yesterday that Jordan might review the peace treaty.

“If Israel wants to violate the peace treaty in this issue, the entire treaty, its article, details and wording will be put on the table,” Mr Nsur said.

He spoke after Jordan’s parliament passed a motion urging the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador to the kingdom. The vote followed a motion the previous day signed by 47 MPs demanding that the peace treaty with Israel be scrapped.

Mr Madani, of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, which represents 57 countries, insisted that Al Aqsa is a “red line”, warning that “such acts not only threaten the peace process but security and stability in the whole region”.

Israeli police on Tuesday clashed with stone-throwing Palestinian protesters at the compound ahead of the Knesset debate.

Sitting above the Western Wall plaza, the compound houses the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque – Islam’s third-holiest site.

* Agence France-Presse with additional reporting Associated Press