Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, has called for a
freeze on the Arab peace initiative with Israel in response to its
police action in al-Aqsa mosque.
He accused Israel of wanting to "destroy" Jerusalem's revered al-Aqsa
mosque, the scene of clashes on Sunday as Israeli police battled
"It is the first step towards dividing the mosque, a prelude to
demolishing it and building a temple," Meshaal said in a speech in
the Syrian capital Damascus, where he is based.
Meshaal urged the Palestinian leadership to halt negotiations with
Israel and to make the level of its reaction similar to that of the
Israeli practices in Jerusalem's Old City.
Dozens of people, most of them Muslim worshippers, were wounded on
Sunday in confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinians in
and around the holy site revered by Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif
and by Jews as the Temple Mount.
"Jerusalem belongs to its Arab inhabitants, Muslims and Christians.
The future (of the city) will not be settled at the negotiating
table but on the ground of confrontation and resistance," Meshaal
The Arab peace initiative offers a road map for normalisation of
ties between Arabs and Israelis in return for an Israeli pullout
from occupied Arab lands.
Saudi Arabia launched the initiative in 2002.
Meshaal has called for rallies to express rage and solidarity with
the Palestinians staging a sit-in inside al-Aqsa mosque, and
addressed Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, in
particular to intervene to protect the mosque.
Regarding political settlement with Israel, Meshaal said that the
US, under President Barack Obama, had failed to convince Israel to
halt settlement activities for a year.
He said the Obama administration adopted the Israeli demand for Arab
countries to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.
Aziz al-Dweik, speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, told
Al Jazeera that "the occupation is going on with its scheduled plan
to demolish the al-Aqsa mosque, God forbid it, and to keep prayers
away from it."
Speaking to Al Jazeera from the West Bank city of Hebron, Dweik said
that the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations process "gives the
occupation a green light to continue messing with our capabilities
"I ask the [Palestinian] negotiator if he has managed, through
negotiations, to prevent the aggression against and the desecration
of the al-Aqsa mosque," he said.