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Amid violence on Temple Mount, Ra’am warns coalition in danger; PM holds assessment

( Times of Israel )

The leader of the Islamist Ra’am party said Friday that he had informed his coalition partners that violent clashes on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem were a “red line” that could further harm Israel’s unstable government.

“The continued harm to Al-Aqsa is a red line for us, including in the context of coalition stability,” Abbas said in an interview on Radio Al-Shams.

“In the case of Al-Aqsa, there are no political considerations,” he added, referring to the holy site by the name of the mosque there.

The current Israeli government has been brought to the brink of collapse in recent days after a member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party quit the coalition, causing it to lose its razor-thin majority. The 120-member Knesset is now deadlocked, with both the coalition and opposition comprising 60 seats apiece.

The Ra’am chief’s comments came as clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli police at the Temple Mount early Friday morning. Over 150 Palestinians were injured according to the Red Crescent; Israel said three officers were also hurt. The Muslim Waqf authorities said hundreds were arrested, while a police source quoted by the Kan public broadcaster said 400 were detained.

The Ra’am party sharply condemned the police response, repeating that “Al-Aqsa is [part of] the faith and there is no place for political considerations regarding it.”

“Muslims have the exclusive right to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The daily invasions are an aggression against that exclusive right,” Ra’am added.

Ra’am MK Mazen Ghnaim later threatened to quit the coalition “if the actions of the security forces at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque aren’t halted immediately.”

“A government that acts this way… has no right to exist,” he said in a statement addressed to Bennett.

Amid the clashes, police said in a statement that it was committed to allowing prayers to take place at the holy site. “We call on the worshipers to maintain order and observe the prayers in an orderly manner. The Israel Police will not allow rioters to disrupt the prayers and disrupt public order,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Bennett held a meeting with Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai and Public Security Minister Omer Barlev at a Border Police base in Jerusalem. “[We are] working to provide security for Israeli citizens,” Bennett tweeted.

“We have repeatedly said that we will do our best to allow freedom of worship on the Temple Mount, and this reality has not changed,” Barlev wrote on Twitter. “The policemen who are there are acting with great courage and in difficult conditions, while they have had to confront violent elements who have collected stones and iron bars in order to infringe on the freedom of worship on the Mount and at the Western Wall.”

Shabtai said: “We won’t allow any handful [of people] to disturb the calm or freedom of worship.”

“Israel is committed to freedom of worship for people of all faiths in Jerusalem, and our goal is to enable peaceful prayer for believers during the Ramadan holiday,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement, published in Hebrew and Arabic as well.

“The riots this morning on the Temple Mount are unacceptable and go against the spirit of the religions we believe in. The convergence of Passover, Ramadan, and Easter is symbolic of what we have in common. We must not let anyone turn these holy days into a platform for hate, incitement, and violence,” he said.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers condemned the incidents, saying in a statement that Israel would bear the consequences of its “brutal assaults.”

“Our people in Jerusalem are not alone in the battle for Al-Aqsa. The whole Palestinian people and its noble resistance and its vital power are with them,” said Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhum.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another terror group in the Gaza Strip, also threatened Israel over the clashes.

“The enemy will realize that the fire it is lighting, in its blind contempt, will turn back on it and burn it,” Islamic Jihad said in a statement.

“Unless the occupation removes its hands from Al-Aqsa and stops aggressing against our people, the confrontation will be sooner and harder than they believe,” Islamic Jihad concluded.

Gaza terror groups earlier this week repeated that Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque were red lines for them.

The foreign ministry of the Palestinian Authority, the West Bank-based rival of Hamas, issued a statement condemning what it said were “heinous crimes” committed by Israeli police on the Mount. The ministry said it holds the Israeli government directly responsible for any consequences of the clashes.

“The storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the entry of the occupation forces… is a dangerous development and sacrilege, and it is tantamount to declaring war on our Palestinian people,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, in a separate statement carried by the official WAFA news agency.

Jordan similarly condemned “in the most severe terms” what it called an Israeli “invasion” of the Temple Mount and demanded that Israel immediately withdraw its forces from the holy site. A spokesperson for the Jordanian Foreign Ministry warned of the “danger of this grave escalation” at the shrine.

Other Israeli lawmakers, including the Joint List’s Sami Abu Shehadeh, condemned the “attack on worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque.”

“The invasion into the al-Aqsa Mosque and the attack on worshipers in the mosque in the holiest month of Islam and hours before Friday prayers in the month of Ramadan is a red line, and [Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett is the one who bears full responsibility for all the developments of his decisions to ignite the area,” Shehadeh said on Twitter.

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