World Bulletin/News Desk
Fifty-six percent of Israelis approve of existing government rules banning Jews from praying in East Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, according to a joint survey by local research groups.
According to the survey – conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute, a local think tank, and a research group at Tel Aviv University – 56 percent of respondents believe the Israeli government should continue restricting Jews from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to perform prayers in order to "prevent friction with the Muslim world."
On the other hand, 38 percent of respondents said the Israeli government should change the policy, even if the move leads to bloodshed.
Moreover, 47 percent of survey respondents supported a ruling by mainstream rabbis that Jewish prayer at the Al-Aqsa was forbidden "until the arrival of the Messiah and the rebuilding of the Temple" in the area, where two historic mosques currently stand.
About 31 percent of respondents, however, supported the rulings of certain rabbis who permit Jews to pray at the complex currently.
The survey was conducted by phone from November 3 to 5 on a sample of 603 Israelis over the age of 18, according to the think tank.
The survey comes amid heightened tension in Jerusalem and the occupied territories as groups of extremist Jewish settlers continue to regularly force their way into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, angering Muslim worshippers and occasionally triggering violent confrontations.
Late last month, Israeli authorities temporarily closed Al-Aqsa after an extremist Jewish rabbi – who supports calls for Jews to perform prayers inside the complex – was injured in a drive-by shooting in West Jerusalem.
Unrest mounted further after Israeli forces killed a young Palestinian man suspected of shooting the rabbi in a raid on his East Jerusalem home.
Further aggravating the situation, several Israeli parliamentarians have entered Al-Aqsa in recent weeks, drawing the ire of Muslim worshippers and official condemnation from Arab and Muslim countries.
At least two Israelis – one police officer and one settler – were killed and a number of others injured over the past week in attacks by Palestinians.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon triggered what later became known as the "Second Intifada," a popular uprising against Israel's decades-long occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.
Last Mod: 12 Kasım 2014, 14:17