Israel is ‘preserving the status quo’ at Jerusalem’s holy site
'Israel is maintaining the status quo – freedom of prayer for Muslims and the right to visit for non-Muslims'
Israel emphasized earlier this week a long-standing ban on Jewish prayer at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque compound, rejecting an Arab League accusation that it was deviating from the site’s status quo.
Israeli security forces are on high alert with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan coinciding with the Jewish holiday Passover and Christianity’s Easter.
The Arab League accused Israel of breaking the status quo by allowing Jews to pray at the compound, calling it a “provocation.”
Israel, however, said there is no change in its long-standing ban on Jewish prayer at the flashpoint site.
"Israel is maintaining the status quo, which includes the freedom of prayer for Muslims and the right to visit for non-Muslims. The police enforce the ban on Jewish prayer," said Lior Haiat, a spokesperson for Israel's Foreign Ministry.
"Over the last few years, Israel is not allowing Jews to visit the Temple Mount during the last 10 days of Ramadan to prevent any friction," he said.
That 10-day period started on Friday.
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Also on Thursday, a US State Department delegation met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in a snap Middle East visit to try to ease tensions.
The West Bank’s Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the US representatives that Israel is responsible for the escalation, while the Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told them the Jewish state was working to “preserve the status quo.”