CAIRO - An Israeli candidate running in this week's general election has sparked outrage by calling for blowing up Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third holiest shrine, to rebuild the alleged Temple of Solomon.
This is a serious challenge and a fundamental provocative call to the entire Muslim world, Sheikh Yousuf Dowais, chairman of the Palestinian Higher Shari`ah Judicial Council, said in a statement cited by the Gulf News on Sunday, January 20.
The Dome of the Rock and the entire Al-Aqsa Compound [Al Haram Al Sharif] are greater, bigger and purer than being used to make political and electoral gains.
Israeli voters are going to polling stations on Tuesday, January 22, to elect a new parliament.
Opinion polls show that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition is on course to be the largest party in the Knesset.
But three days before the vote, a video of Jeremy Gimpel, a member of the far-right Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party emerged, calling for the demolishing of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Speaking at the Fellowship Church in Florida in 2011, Gimpel, an ordained rabbi, asked what would happen if Al-Aqsa Mosque is blown up.
Imagine if the Golden Dome - I'm being recorded so I can't say blown up' - but let's say the Dome was blown up, right? And we laid the cornerstone of the Temple in Jerusalem, he told the audience.
Can you imagine? None of you would be here. All of you would be like, I'm going to Israel, right?' No one would be here, it would be incredible.
Al-Aqsa is the Muslims' first Qiblah [direction Muslims take during prayers] and it is the third holiest shrine after Al Ka`bah in Makkah and Prophet Muhammad's Mosque in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.
Its significance has been reinforced by the incident of Al Isra'a and Al Mi'raj the night journey from Makkah to Al-Quds and the ascent to the Heavens by Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be Upon Him).
Jews claim that their alleged Temple of Solomon exists underneath the Muslim holy place and want to destroy it to build their temple.
Dowais condemned the demolition call as part of Israel's systematic aggression of holy places in the occupied Palestinian lands.
The Israeli occupation is waging an unprecedented attack against the holiest Islamic and Christian sites in the holy land, Dowais, who is also the head of the Palestinian Shari`ah Higher Court, said.
Saving [Occupied] Jerusalem is a basic religious duty of every Arab and Muslim in the world, Dowais said.
It is time for Arabs and Muslims to act in protection of the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Compound [Al Haram Al Sharif].
The call has also sparked uproar inside Israel, with former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, the leader of Hatnua party, petitioning to bar the US-born candidate from running in Tuesday's election.
The mask has been ripped off. The delusional, lunatic list to be brought to the Knesset is threatening to ignite the entire Middle East and bring about a third world war, said Yoel Hasson, a member of the Israeli Knesset.
But the Israeli candidate dismissed the criticism, saying he was joking.
This lecture was given to a Christian group as I was teaching about the book of Ezra, a story that happened over 2,000 years ago, Gimpel's spokesman told The Times of Israel.
In order to make the lecture more lively I made a few jokes and you clearly hear the audience laughing. This is a cheap political attack and I would urge anyone to watch the video in its entirety and decide for yourselves.
Al-Quds is home to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which includes Islam's third holiest shrine Al-Aqsa Mosque, and represents the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Israel occupied the holy city in the 1967 war and later annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community or UN resolutions.Since then, Israel has adopted a series of oppressive measures to force the Palestinians out of the city, including systematic demolition of their homes and building settlements.