Arab Member of Knesset Basel Ghattas (Joint Arab List) decided to visit the Har Habayis on Wednesday, violating a ban on visitation for Israeli lawmakers and declaring that “neither [Prime Minister Bibi] Netanyahu nor the powers of the occupation will prevent Arabs and Muslim believers from realizing their right to pray at Al-Aqsa mosque or any holy Muslim site.”
Netanyahu has issued a blanket ban on MKs and Israeli cabinet ministers from visiting the Har Habayis due to the particularly high tensions surrounding the site in recent weeks.
Accompanying a photo of himself at the Har Habayis posted on Facebook, Ghattas wrote, “I am here to tell Netanyahu: You have no sovereignty over Jerusalem or over Al-Aqsa mosque. You and your occupation cannot deny us or our people the right to pray and visit Al-Aqsa mosque. This sacred place will remain Arab and Islamic forever.”
Netanyahu called a press conference Wednesday to address the incident.
“The Temple Mount has been calm for two weeks now, and we are making every effort to maintain this calm. But apparently there are people who are irritated by this,” Netanyahu said. “I promise you that [Ghattas] did not go there to pray, he did it only as a provocation and to inflame tensions.”