Netanyahu slams Arab-Israeli lawmaker’s visit to Al-Aqsa

Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday condemned a visit by an Arab-Israeli lawmaker to Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa, saying such visits are bound to incite more tensions.

Netanyahu said the visit by Basel Ghattas, a Christian lawmaker with the Arab-Jewish Joint List faction, was a “provocation” that could only further “inflame the situation”.

Ghattas’ visit to the compound, which has been at the centre of a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence, defied a ban Netanyahu set earlier in October, barring lawmakers’ visits to the site.

Netanyahu said that in accordance with his directive, the police moved Ghattas away from the compound.

“The Temple Mount has been quiet for two weeks. We are making every effort to maintain this quiet,” Netanyahu said in a televised statement, Xinhua reported.

In a bid to pre-empt a wave of consecutive visits by right-wing Jewish lawmakers, Netanyahu said that he “will not let any parliament member or minister ignite the Temple Mount, and I call on all members of the parliament and public figures in general to act responsibly, especially at this time.”