Ramallah (Palestine): Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official Adnan Husseini on Sunday said that Israel "is giving an official cover to its plans to control" Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Husseini, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, made the remarks in response to the participation of an Israeli minister in a tour by a group of settlers into the holy site, according to news agency Xinhua.
The tour was considered by Palestinians "an incursion."
Husseini told Xinhua that "Israel's plans to take over Al-Aqsa Mosque are now taking a more official trend, which means it is entering a new dangerous phase that we must deal with more seriously."
"The Israeli government used to justify the incursions saying they are held by extremist settlers, but now what is happening is incursions by officials, ministers and Knesset (parliament) members are taking part," he said.
Israeli Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel joined dozens of settlers Sunday morning in a tour inside Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in east Jerusalem under the protection of Israeli police, according to Islamic Wakf Department.
The department said in a press statement that Israeli police "imposed restrictions on Muslim worshippers, limiting their access into the mosque during the incursion, and it banned the mosque guards and recluses from using the path taken by Ariel."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided last June to allow Knesset, or parliament members and ministers to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque once every three months after a two-year ban.
Tensions have been mounting in east Jerusalem since the Israeli high court ruled in favor of a decision requiring Netanyahu to justify the ban on Jewish prayers inside Al-Aqsa Mosque.
A 1967 deal between Israel and the custodian of Islamic Wakf in Jerusalem, Jordan, stipulates that non-Muslims are allowed to visit the Al-Aqsa mosque but not to pray inside it.
Palestinians consider this as a step towards allowing settlers to hold their prayers at the Islamic site.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is sacred to both Muslims and Jews. Jewish people refer to it as the Temple Mount, while it is considered the third holiest site for Muslims.
The mosque is located in a spacious compound besides the infamous golden Dome of the Rock, together known as Al-Haram Al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, inside the Old City of Jerusalem described by UNESCO as an Islamic site.
The site has been administered by Jordanian Islamic Wakf Ministry since 1948, but after Israel took over the city in 1967, it was obliged to respect the status quo and not make any changes to the status, laws and institutions in occupied east Jerusalem.
The Palestinians want the eastern part of Jerusalem as the capital of their future Palestinian state, while Israel insists that the unified Jerusalem be its eternal capital.
The Israeli occupation of the eastern part of the holy city in 1967 is a move that was never recognized by the international community.
Jerusalem is one of the final status issues for Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, which had been stalled since 2014 after nine months of U.S.-sponsored talks ended without achieving any breakthrough.
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