– The Arab league on Monday denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent remarks on personally taking part in excavations under the the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, according to Anadolu Agency.
In a press statement a day earlier, Netanyahu pledged to become personally involved in the transfer of soil from the bottom of the mosque this week, calling on the Jewish community to join him.
Netanyahu’s call for “this crime against Aqsa (mosque) confirms the acceleration of Israel’s systematic schemes, and portends the collapse of Al-Aqsa mosque,” said Abu Ali, assistant secretary-general and head of the Palestinian and Arab Occupied Territories Sector of the League of Arab States, in a statement Monday.
The announcement came amid the storming by the Israeli Antiquities Authority of Bab al-Rahma (Gate of Mercy) Cemetery — an ancient cemetery for Muslims — adjacent to the Al- Aqsa Mosque, and demolishing graves inside it, said Abu Ali, describing it as “a continuation of Israel’s systematic attacks against Islamic monuments, sites and graves”.
“Netanyahu’s decision and what the Israeli Antiquities Authority did is a “reaction” to the two decisions approved by the executive board of the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Jerusalem and Al- Aqsa mosque, which provides for the preservation of the Palestinian cultural heritage and its featured character in Jerusalem, and to consider Al-Aqsa Mosque and the entire Al-Aqsa Mosque complex (Haram al-Sharif) as a holy Islamic site dedicated for worship,” Abu Ali added.
On Oct. 18, the executive board of UNESCO officially adopted a resolution denying a Jewish connection to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
The resolution calls on Israel — as an “occupying power” — to restore of the “historic status quo” that prevailed until September 2000, under which the Jordan-run Organization for Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs exercised exclusive authority over the iconic mosque complex.
The Arab League official accused Israel of trying to “blow up the situation and ignite a religious war in the region; which will promote terrorism, extremism and threaten peace and security in the world.”
Abu Ali went on to say that the excavations in Al-Aqsa mosque “threaten its foundations and portends its collapse along with the continuation and escalation of incursions of settlers, and the violation of its sanctity and its religious prestige among Muslims,” calling it a “heinous crime against all Arabs, Muslims and the free world.”
Abu Ali called on UNESCO to urge Israel and concerned international organizations and institutions, especially the Security Council to implement the resolution, and to stop the official Israeli aggression on the holy sites, and provide the necessary protection for it.
He called for “the need to take quick and effective steps that exceed condemnation and denouncement, and rise to the level that matches the size of the “seriousness of Netanyahu’s declaration and the size of the Israeli violations of the sanctities of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Abu Ali said that “the silence of the international community” in the face of these “announced and documented crimes” “encouraged” the Israeli occupation to carry out its crimes overtly.
The Israeli media have reported intensively on Netanyahu’s remarks, in addition to his condemnation of the UNESCO which he accused of “ignoring the attacks” carried out by “the Muslim extremists” such as Daesh against international monuments.