Palestine warns of 'religious war' over Aqsa's status
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) warned Thursday that calls by an Israeli government minister to change the status quo at Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque would lead to a "religious war".
In a written statement released after a meeting in Ramallah, the PLO's Executive Committee said the recent calls are "an attempt to drag the region into a religious war" and "propaganda" for the division of the mosque.
On Tuesday, Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called for changing the status of the mosque so that Jews can pray there individually or collectively in an open or closed area.
"I think there is an injustice in the status quo that has existed since 1967," Erdan told Israeli Radio on Tuesday.
"We need to work to change [the status quo] so in the future, Jews, with the help of God, can pray at the Temple Mount."
Gaza-based resistance faction Hamas meanwhile called for national unity in a written statement after holding an emergency meeting on the latest developments concerning al-Aqsa Mosque that occurred on the eve and first day of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.
Israeli forces attacked Palestinian worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex Sunday, injuring at least 37.
Terming Jerusalem a "red line", Hamas said "any attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque is an attack on the Palestinian people in particular and all the ummah."
"The only way to resist this plot is real national unity based on a real partnership," it said.
The Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs of Palestine in a written statement also warned against a "religious war" in the region.
Calling the recent Israeli actions a "provocative step" aimed at dividing Al-Aqsa Mosque, the ministry called on the international community to intervene.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. In 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community, Israel annexed the entire city, claiming it as the self-proclaimed Jewish state's "eternal and undivided" capital.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina. Jews refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.