AFIC welcomes the decision by the Israeli government to remove the so-called security measures that restricted access and the freedom to worship at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Whilst this decision is a victory for the hundreds and thousands of Palestinians that courageously and resolutely undertook a sustained campaign of civil disobedience, it must be remembered that the threat to Muslim stewardship over the Haram Al-Shareef site (or Noble Sanctuary) and unfettered access to it continues to be threatened by Israel’s repressive and discriminatory policies.

Dr Rateb was emphatic in his denunciation of the Israeli government and military. “We condemn the Israeli government for imposing the unreasonable security measures in the first place and for the brutal crackdown on protesters which has resulted in the deaths of at least three Palestinians and the injury of hundreds.” Dr Rateb went on to say that “The Israeli government must guarantee the freedom of worship for all residents and visitors to Jerusalem, and immediately cease all policies and activities that undermine the sanctity of the Haram al-Shareef compound and Muslim control over it.”

Dr Rateb also reiterated AFIC’s long-standing position on Palestine and called for an end to the brutal occupation and for justice for the long suffering Palestinian people. “The world cannot continue to ignore the plight of the Palestinian people. Israel cannot be allowed to flagrantly violate countless UN resolutions, and we call upon the Australian Government to follow the lead of the NSW Labor Party and 137 countries around the world by immediately recognising the state of Palestine.”

Dr Rateb called on the international community and the United Nations to monitor the situation, and condemned the Israeli government for using the pretext of security to systematically marginalise the Palestinians, deprive them of their rights including freedom of worship, and commit deplorable human rights abuses.

Dr Rateb stressed that “no Palestinian wants to see their holy sites turned into places of conflict and Israel must respect the rights of all people to worship freely in their holy places.”