Israel minister visit to Jerusalem flashpoint condemned

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.