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New Israel-Palestinian Tensions on Shrine (REUTERS) By Allyn Fisher-Ilan JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 08/26/03 04:50 PM ET) Source: http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=3YZGP2EEIX3ASCRBAE0CFEY?type=topNews&storyID=3340124
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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel on Tuesday of creating a recipe for violence by allowing Jewish extremists to visit the most politically sensitive holy site for both sides in Jerusalem.
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The site is known to Jews as the Temple Mount, Judaism´s holiest shrine, and to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif which contains Islam´s third holiest shrine, the 1,300-year-old al-Aqsa mosque. The Dome of the Rock mosque is also on the site.
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Abbas´s statement followed the detention of three Palestinians by Israeli police for trying to stop non-Muslims entering the site, which Israel reopened to visits by Jews and Christians several months ago. It has often been the scene of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
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For Palestinians the site is a symbol of an uprising for statehood that began in September 2000 after then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon, now prime minister, visited the site. The uprising had prompted the suspension of visits.
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"This inciteful Israeli policy (of allowing Jewish extremists to visit the site) is a recipe for friction and violence," Abbas said in his statement.
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Israel´s rightist Public Security Minister Tsahi Hanegbi has promoted visits, saying Jews have a right to tour the site of two Jewish temples destroyed in biblical times. Israel captured the site in the 1967 Middle East war.
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Israeli police said they did not allow non-Muslims to enter the mosques. "Any (non-Muslim) making any outward attempt to pray will be escorted out," national police spokesman Gil Kleiman told Reuters.
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DELICATE NEGOTIATIONS
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Non-Muslims are allowed to wander around the whole site, a compound the size of several soccer fields, apart from the two mosques. Muslims view the entire site as a holy Islamic shrine.
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Israel controls it and posts police at entrances to maintain law and order, but an Islamic religious trust administers it. Most decisions are delicately negotiated.
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Israeli police said three trust officials prayed at an entrance on Monday along with a dozen other Muslims to try to block visits by non- Muslims. Scuffles broke out and the officials were arrested on Tuesday, they said.
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An Israeli judge freed two of them on bail of 5,000 shekels ($1,120) each and ordered them to stay away from the site for two months. The third was freed.
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"We asked to distance them from the site for two months for incitement and their attempts to cause civil disorder," said Kleiman. "The case has been transferred to a prosecutor who will decide whether it is in the public interest to charge them."
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Kleiman said the three were arrested so they could be questioned about the incident in which they were suspected of "incitement and attempting to cause a public disorder."
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Adnan al-Husseini, who heads the Islamic religious trust, said the visits were "an unjust and illegal procedure" motivated by an Israeli desire to impose control over the al-Aqsa mosque and that "extremist Jews" were among the visitors.
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"(They) wanted to practice their religious rituals and this is rejected by all Muslims all over the world because this is an Islamic site," he said. ($1=4.471 Israeli Shekel) (© Reuters 2003 08/26/03)
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