The head of the Arab League warned that Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount, since removed, risk igniting a religious war.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the organisation’s Secretary-General, said “no Muslim in the world would accept tarnishing the Al-Aqsa mosque”.
It comes after Israel installed metal detectors and CCTV cameras outside the mosque, which is one of the most sacred Islamic sites but also stands on the holy site that Jews call Temple Mount.
Access to the area is a contentious issue as it falls in occupied East Jerusalem but is managed by neighbouring Jordan.
Israel is “playing with fire and will only ignite a religious war and shift the core of the conflict from politics to religion”, Aboul Gheit claimed.
“I call on the occupying state to learn the lessons of this crisis and the message it carries,” he added.
“Dealing with Islamic sanctities with such imprudence poses a real threat of igniting a religious war, because no Muslim in the world accepts tarnishing Al-Aqsa or its closure in the face of the worshippers or placing it under Israeli control”.
The new security measures were introduced after two Israeli policemen were shot dead by three Arab-Israeli gunmen on 14 July.
The move sparked violent clashes between Palestinians and Israelis and led Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority President, to halt security co-operation with Israel.
Israel has now agreed to withdraw the new measures.
After meeting in Cairo, the Arab League issued a statement saying it “condemns in the strongest terms Israel’s plans and policies that aim to Judaize the occupied city of Jerusalem and distort its Arab and Muslim character”.
“East Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state”, the organisation said, expressing its “rejection and condemnation of all measures by the occupying force to diminish Palestinian rights of sovereignty over it”.
113 people were injured outside the Al-Aqsa mosque on Thursday after Muslims returned to prayers having initially boycotted services because of the new security measures. The site’s religious authority encouraged worshippers to attend after saying Israel had removed the controversial new security measures.
Violent clashes broke out as crowds flocked back to afternoon services, and security forces used stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets in attempting to control the crowd.
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