Netanyahu rips Abbas over Al Aksa destruction claims

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned a speech by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which Abbas said that Israel was planning to destroy the Al Aksa Mosque.

“This is a harshly inflammatory speech from someone who claims that he is bent on peace,” Netanyahu said in a statement Feb. 26.

In a speech at the International Conference for the Defense of Jerusalem in Qatar, Abbas said, “The Israeli occupation authorities are using the ugliest and most dangerous means to implement plans to erase and remove the Arab-Islamic and the Christian character of east Jerusalem” and spoke of Israel’s plans to “Judaize” Jerusalem, including ethnic cleansing of Arabs.

Abbas also denied the existence of a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and accused Israel of planning to harm the Al Aksa mosque. He called on Arabs and Muslims to visit Jerusalem.

Several Israeli-Arab lawmakers, including Ahmed Tibi, Taleb al-Sana and Ibrahim Sarsour of the United Arab List-Ta’al party, attended the conference along with representatives of 70 other countries. — jta