The Noble Sanctuary – or al-Haram al-Sharif – the compound housing the al-Aqsa mosque, also contains the Dome of the Rock mosque and is referred to by Jews as the Temple Mount.
David Ha’ivri, chairman of the Revava organisation planning the 10 April march, is hoping the mass ascent of 10,000 Jews to the compound will pressure the Israeli government to transfer full control of the compound from Muslim to Jewish hands.
The compound, which is considered holy to both Muslims and Jews, is currently administered by the al-Waqf Muslim authority.
“The Temple Mount has historical meaning for the Jewish people. It is where our first and second temples stood,” Ha’ivri told Aljazeera.net on Thursday.
He added his organisation was in the process of negotiating with Israeli authorities to allow larger groups to ascend and for longer hours than currently allowed.
At present, only a small group of a few dozen non-Muslims are allowed into the sanctuary for four hours a day.
Cause for conflict?
He dismissed the idea that 10,000 Jews marching near one of Islam’s holiest sites – the al-Aqsa mosque – would be cause for alarm.
Other Jewish groups have before
“[The march] shouldn’t cause any conflict; we’re talking about our civil and religious right to access to the Temple Mount,” he said.
“Members of our organisation visit regularly … we have had no history of conflict with Muslims when we visit there.”
However, according to the Jerusalem Post, “extreme right-wing elements are drawing up a strategy to storm the Temple Mount in attempt to torpedo” Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan from Gaza.
The newspaper did not specify which groups were planning such events but did make a reference to “tens of thousands of Jews on the Temple Mount”.
Ha’ivri denied that the Post article referred to his organisation’s “initiative”.
Act of aggression
Palestinian officials view the march as a possible act of aggression.
The Jewish march on al-Aqsa will
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya warned against the consequences of what he termed “an attack by a group of Jewish extremists” against the al-Aqsa mosque.
“Such an attack would spark conflict,” he said.
Quraya said the Israeli government has ample time to take the necessary measures that would prevent such an occurrence.
“The threats by a group of Jewish extremists to stage an aggression against al-Aqsa mosque, involves real and serious risks when it coincides with an Israeli pullout from Gaza,” Quraya said.
“We warn the Israeli government, we warn the international community and the world at large, that if such an aggression occurred against al-Aqsa mosque, be it a minor attack or a large-scale aggression, it would shatter the whole situation in the region,” Quraya said.
The Israeli government has made no official comment on the issue.