CAIRO: The Israeli attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem after the Friday prayers are an attempt to sabotage any peace talks with the Palestinians, analysts say.
“The Israelis know that any imposition on Al-Aqsa will create hostility and they are aiming to sabotage the peace process, head of Israeli Studies at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies Abdel-Aleem Mohammed told The Daily Star Egypt.
He added “Israel wants to derail any possibility of peace with the Palestinians and wants to destroy the national unity government.
The day before the attacks, an agreement had been reached between warring factions Fatah and Hamas in Mecca to form a national unity government and bring an end to violence that claimed the lives of 34 people.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit called on Israel not to ruin the atmosphere of reconciliation which all concerned sides had been hoping would ensure a peace agreement between Palestine and Israel.
Aboul Gheit added that Egypt was extremely concerned with the situation in Jerusalem, and opposed the Israeli actions taking place near the holy Muslim site.
Israeli police and army units stormed Al-Aqsa mosque after the Friday prayers, firing stun grenades at worshippers as they were preparing to demonstrate the Israeli construction and tunnel-digging near and below the mosque.
“The Israelis believe the remnants of Solomon’s Temple lie beneath the mosque. The Israeli works are not new, Mohammed said.
In 1996 there were attempts to dig a tunnel under Al-Aqsa mosque to search for any remains of the temple, thought to have burnt down thousands of years ago. And a visit by then Defense Minister Ariel Sharon with an armed guard in 2000 sparked the second Intifada (Uprising).
Aboul Gheit indicated that the latest events were in a similar vein. He said that Israel should halt all such work that contributes to the escalation of the situation. Especially as Al-Aqsa mosque is a holy site in Islam, Aboul Gheit added.
Mohammed told The Daily Star Egypt “this doesn’t involve only the Palestinians, but the entire Muslim world. Circumstances put the Palestinians at the forefront of this struggle, their people and their government.
On Friday, anti-riot police scuffled with protestors outside Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo who wanted to demonstrate the Israeli renovations in Jerusalem. The Muslim Brotherhood had called for the demonstration but police prevented the demonstrators from reaching the mosque prior to the prayers.