Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is well known for making controversial comments, and even pushing the boundaries sometimes for what is acceptable to say out loud and what is not.
In an unprecedented move on Friday, the Fatah leader suggested that Jews be banned from praying on the Temple Mount, the site most holy to Judaism, simply because they are Jewish and not Muslim.
Abbas’ comments come after considerable unrest on the Temple Mount over recent weeks as Hamas-organized rioting has been taking place there, and the Israeli border guards have been forced to ban males under the age of 50 from praying at the al-Aqsa Mosque.
On Friday, the Muslim day of rest, worshippers leaving Gaza mosques chanted slogans vowing to defend the al-Aqsa Mosque, even though it’s under no threat and free worship is allowed there in general, waving green flags and pledging violence against the Jewish State.
One Hamas leader, Ismail Radwan, even called on “our people in Jerusalem and the West Bank to defend al-Aqsa.”
Abbas, who, according to some commentators tends to inflame situations with his rhetoric rather than calming them, said following the unrest on the mount that Jews should be prevented from entering the site “by any means,” adding that “this is our Noble Sanctuary… they have no right to enter and desecrate it.”
By “desecrate it,” Abbas means praying, as he obviously considers the prayers of Jews to desecrate the al-Aqsa Mosque, even though it only enjoys the status of Islam’s third holiest site, while for Jews the Temple Mount is the main and primary holy site.
On Thursday, Hamas political leader Khaled Mashal called for Muslims to defend the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, saying Israel was trying to seize the site, which is revered in both Islam and Judaism.
Speaking from the Qatari capital of Doha, where Mashal lives in five star hotel accommodation, the Hamas leader said, “We call on all our people inside the country to hurry up to al-Aqsa to defend it.”
Amazingly, even though Israel as a democracy allows freedom of prayer and practice of religion to all faiths, they are forbidden from praying on the Temple Mount, when they get passes to visit it, for fear it will upset the Muslim worshippers there.