The Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv sent an official message to the Israeli Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni on Saturday, expressing Egypt’s deep concern over the “latest developments” in Jerusalem, stressing the need to maintain the status quo.
Paul Hirschon, spokesperson for Israel’s foreign ministry, told Daily News Egypt that there would be “no change in the status quo” in Jerusalem and that security forces were solely preoccupied with “ensuring law and order”. The status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem is the result of an Ottoman decree dating back to the 18th century, which divided their ownership and oversight among Jews, Muslims, and Christians.
Over the past three weeks, clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters have flared in the area around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, after Israel repeatedly restricted access to the site, allowing only Palestinians above the age of 50 to enter, while right-wing Israeli activists made a point of continuing to visit the site and mumble prayers.
The site on which the mosque is built – known to Jews as Temple Mount – is considered the holiest site in Judaism. The site is also the third holiest site for Muslims, after Mecca and Medina.
Egypt’s foreign ministry said on Saturday that an Egyptian delegation in Ramallah met with a number of Palestinian representatives including the Palestinian Mufti, and the head of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs.
During the meetings, the sides discussed the situation in Jerusalem and the Egyptian delegation confirmed its support for the Palestinian people.
On Saturday, a Palestinian was killed during clashes between protesters and Israeli police in Kafr Kanna, an Arab village in the Galilee region of northern Israel.
Last week the ministry and the Arab League condemned what it called the “continuous Israeli violations in Al-Aqsa Mosque, by settlers and Israeli officials”, as well as the restricted access to the mosque.