Following reports that President Barack Obama’s trip to Israel next month could include a visit to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, the militant group Hamas warned that it would be a “diplomatic catastrophe” while local Muslim leaders moved to set restrictions on a possible presidential tour.
The Times of Israel
reported that Hamas issued a statement saying that an Obama visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the southern perimeter of the Mount would create “an imminent danger which the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem have never faced.”
Hamas went on to say that a visit by Obama to the disputed site, which it claims is under “Zionist occupation,” would be more dangerous than relocating the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
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The Temple Mount, which is revered by both Jews and Muslims, is administered by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a trust that has governed the site since the 12th century. The Waqf also issued a statement insisting that if the president does visit the site it must be for sight-seeing only and not for any political purpose. The trust also said no Israeli official would be allowed to accompany the president.
For its part, the White House has so far given no indication the president actually plans to visit the Temple Mount.
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