Arab league blasts Israel's Herzog for Ibrahimi Mosque visit
The Arab League blasted Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Sunday for entering the Ibrahimi Mosque, which is also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs, in the occupied city of Hebron.
Herzog entered the mosque accompanied by settler leaders and Knesset members to mark the first day of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.
They were protected by Israeli forces who pushed Palestinian demonstrators back.
"My brothers and sisters, today too, with all the complexities - and I am not ignoring these complexities for a moment - the historical affinity of the Jewish people to Hebron, to the Cave of the Patriarchs, to the heritage of our matriarchs and patriarchs, is not in doubt," Herzog said in a speech at the flashpoint site, according to Israeli media.
"Recognition of this attachment must be beyond all controversy."
The city lies within the West Bank, which Israel illegally occupied in 1967.
The Arab League on Sunday condemned the visit by Herzog, which was seen as an explicit and clear declaration of his sponsorship of Jewish settlements in the city.
The League warned that the move came during "the persistent Judaisation of Islamic and Christian holy sites by the occupation authorities, which constitutes a disregard and a provocation to the feelings of Muslims", according to Palestinian Authority's news agency Wafa.
It added that Hebron, especially the Ibrahimi Mosque, is exposed to consistent aggression by Israeli settlers.
The Israeli president's visit to Hebron was another example of this, the League added, which was an example of "terrorism against the Palestinian people, their rights, and sanctities";
The League likened their treatment of Ibrahimi Mosque to the way in which Israeli authorities practice "Judaisation" of Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque - a term which is used to describe Israel's erasure of the Muslim and Christian presence of holy sites within the occupied West Bank, and settlement expansions.
The Old City of Hebron, in which the Ibrahimi Mosque is located, was deemed a World Heritage Site in 2017 by UNESCO.
Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque is believed to be the burial site of the prophets Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and where both Muslims and Jews worship.
In 1994, Palestinians were praying at the mosque when a gruesome mass shooting, when an Israeli settler killed 29 Muslim worshippers and injured many others in what became known as the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre.