Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu loudly condemned a speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as “severe incitement,” and a threat to peace. Despite this, the speech’s topic, the potential for a dispute over the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, is very real and seems poised to escalate.
The mosque was the site of a major riot late last week, with a number of injuries as Israeli forces stormed the mosque in the wake of Palestinian protests. The unrest was fueled by fliers floating around the city from supporters of Israel’s ruling Likud Party calling for Israel to seize control of the mount, destroy the mosque, and “cleanse” the area of Muslims.
The mosque and the land on which it are built are of enormous religious significance both to Judaism and to Islam, and the site plays a significant role in both religions’ end of the world scenario.
Israeli Arab MPs speaking today warned that damaging the mosque would cause a global holy war among Muslims, and well it might, given the site’s importance in Islam. Likud MP Miri Regev called for the Arab MPs to be arrested for the comments, saying that they were a “fifth column” and averse to the sovereignty of Israel.