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Israeli PM tells police to bar ministers from visiting Al-Aqsa mosque

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered police to bar ministers and lawmakers from visiting the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, the Haaretz daily reported on Wednesday.

Clashes have rocked the compound, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount, in recent weeks amid a spike in tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

The latest reported measure to bar Israeli politicians from the Al-Aqsa mosque compound would be aimed at lowering tensions and reducing the level of Palestinian violence.

The Al-Aqsa compound is the third-holiest site in Islam and the most sacred in Judaism. It is located in east Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in 1967 in a move never recognised by the international community.

Muslims fear Israel will seek to change rules governing the site, which allow Jews to visit but not pray to avoid provoking tensions.

An increase in visits by Jews in recent weeks over a series of Jewish holidays has added to tensions.

Israel’s Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, who has come out in support of the right of Jews to pray in the compound, is among those to have visited the site.

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