Sheikh Azzam Khatib, the director of the Jerusalem Waqf authority, which administers the compound, said the visit was carried out without coordination with his office.
Arab-Israeli legislator Taleb a-Sanaa said the two-hour visit was ‘a dangerous, pathetic provocation’ whose purpose was to ‘inflame the area.’
A spokesman for Aharonvitch was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying that the tour was ‘completely professional’ and there was ‘no special reason for the timing, nothing unusual.’
Aharonovitch, a member of the ultra-nationalist Yisrael B’teinu party and whose ministerial responsibilities include policing, was accompanied on his visit by Police CommissionerDavidCohenand Jerusalem Police Chief Aharon Franco.
A visit to the compound in September 2000 by then-Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon is generally credited as having sparked the Second Palestinian Intifada (uprising) which broke out hours after his visit.
The Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif compound is one of the most sensitive focal points of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It is built on the site of the biblical Jewish Temple, and also marks the spot, Muslims believe, from where the prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.