Palestinians slam decision to allow Jewish Al-Aqsa prayers
An Israeli judge on Wednesday ruled that the silent prayer of Jews at Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem was not a "criminal act", according to Israel's Channel 7 TV.
This is the first ruling by an Israeli court to support Jewish prayers at the flashpoint compound.
The move in an appeal by Rabbi Aryeh Lippo against police restrictions on his visits to the holy site, who also ordered the police to shorten the ban and allow the rabbi to return to his prayer there.
"His daily arrival at the Temple Mount indicates that this is a matter of principle and substance for him," the judge said.
The Jewish tradition refers to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as the Temple Mount.
The Palestinian foreign ministry on Wednesday condemned the decision as "flagrant aggression against Al-Aqsa Mosque", in a statement carried by the Palestinian Authority's news agency, Wafa.
Legalising Jewish prayers at Al-Aqsa "constitutes a declaration of war against the Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nations and an open call to a religious war in the region", the statement said.
It added that such a decision is a step towards dividing the holy compound, warning of its dangerous repercussions on Al-Aqsa Mosque and its historical and legal status quo.
The ministry said that it will coordinate all efforts with Jordan, the Arab League, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for support on the issue, while calling on the Arab and Muslim world to confront Israel's decision.
Although this is the first court order that legalises Jewish prayers inside Al-Aqsa's compound, Israeli police have allowed regular settler incursions into the holy site, while arresting Palestinian worshippers.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and a key Palestinian national symbol.
Some Jews believe it is the site of two biblical-era temples.
Muslim worshippers' access to Al-Aqsa and the adjoining Dome of the Rock is controlled by Israeli security forces.
It is located in East Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.