A Bahrain delegation secretly visited Al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied Old City of East Jerusalem on Friday, following outrage over the normalisation deals between Israel and the Gulf state.
A source in the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf Council, which is trusted with controlling and managing Al-Aqsa Mosque’s compound, told the Jerusalem Post that he was unaware of a visit by Bahraini citizens to the mosque.
They were led by Sheikh Khalid Bin Khalifa, chairman of the Bahraini Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence and a member of the Bahraini royal family.
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, issued a fatwa in August banning Muslims from praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque if they support normalisation deals between Israel and the Arab countries.
Khalid Bin Khalifa told the Jerusalem Post: “It is unacceptable to prevent anyone from any religion from praying. This is a new form of terror.”
“No one owns the mosques,” he said, adding that all Muslims should have free access to their holy sites.
This comes after Palestinians confronted an Emirati group that had entered Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, under the protection of Israeli soldiers.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh condemned the visit of the Emiratis, calling it “saddening”. He said: “One ought to enter the gates of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque by way of its owners, rather than through the gates of the occupation.”
The day before the Bahraini delegation were scheduled to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque, they met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at his residence in Jerusalem.
“Both Israel and Bahrain value freedom of religion and tolerance, and see the different communities that make up their societies as a source of strength,” said Rivlin.