Arab MK: Palestinians must stop Jews going to Temple Mount

Palestinians should halt the ascent of Jews to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem “in every possible way,” Arab MK Jamal Zahalka told a Palestinian news outlet on Thursday, the Hebrew-language website Walla reported.

He later tempered his comments, in a statement released in Hebrew.

In an interview with Donia Al-Watan, the Joint List lawmaker also claimed the number of Jews visiting the flashpoint site is growing daily. The Temple Mount is the holiest shrine in Judaism, and the location of both ancient Jewish temples.

The MK also called for Palestinian organizations to embark on a “popular struggle” against Israel.

“During the Second Intifada, we sacrificed 4,000 martyrs for the sake of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the continuation of [visits] by the Jews are the cause of the current intifada,” Zahalka told the news website, citing an inflated number for the Arab terrorists casualties of the violent Palestinian terror wave during 2000-2005, which included multiple suicide and other terror attacks against Israelis. Some 1,000 Israelis and 3,200 terrorists were killed in the violence, according to official figures.

“The question is if the [Palestinian] groups will join the popular struggle and act at a national level, or they will leave it to the youths who are carrying out lone-wolf attacks?”

But in a statement issued after reports of his interview began to surface in the Hebrew-language media, Zahalka watered down his comments, claimed his intention was to avoid bloodshed and that authorities should prevent provocative visits to the Mount.