Israel allows Knesset members to enter Al-Aqsa compound


Israeli authorities have allowed members of Knesset (parliament) to enter the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in East Jerusalem, Israeli media reported on Sunday.

According to Channel 7, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has temporarily allowed members of the Knesset to enter the complex as of next Sunday.

The decision came after a year and a half since police prohibited MKs from entering the site.

In October 2015, Netanyahu banned lawmakers from entering the Al-Aqsa compound in an effort to calm violence that broke out across Israel-occupied West Bank as a result of repeated incursions by Jewish settlers into the site.

In March, Israeli media reported that Netanyahu had decided to allow his cabinet ministers and MKs to enter the compound after the holy month of Ramadan, which ended last week.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Some extremist Jewish groups have called for the demolition of the Al-Aqsa Mosque so that a Jewish temple might be built in its place.

In September 2000, a visit to the flashpoint religious site by late Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the "Second Intifada," a popular Palestinian uprising in which thousands of people were killed.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem -- in which the Al-Aqsa is located -- during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the entire city in 1980, unilaterally claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state.

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