PLO Executive Committee member, Hanan Ashrawi, says that Israel has kept Jerusalem hostage under its illegal practices and de facto separation from the rest of the occupied Palestinian Territory for fifty-two years, now, by imposing severe restrictions on Palestinian access to Jerusalem and its Christian and Muslim holy sites.

To achieve this de facto separation, Israel employs a triple siege of illegal settlement expansion, the annexation wall, and checkpoints, in addition to the ongoing demolition of Palestinian homes and other practices which deny Palestinians access to Jerusalem and undermine the fabric of society.

Such policies further include denial of access to family, as well as cultural, economic, and health institutions.

“The Palestinian leadership condemns in the strongest of terms the storming of the holy Al-Aqsa mosque compound this Sunday morning by hundreds of extremist Israeli settlers under the protection of Israeli occupation forces. We also condemn the Israeli occupation forces’ violent assault on dozens of Palestinian worshipers and the detention of several others during the course of this highly provocative raid,” said Ashrawi in a statement.

“Through these inflammatory and irresponsible actions, Israel is attempting to normalize the unacceptable raids of Israeli settlers and the restrictions imposed on the right to freedom of worship for Palestinian Muslims, especially during these holy Ramadan days. This is a dangerous and irresponsible course of action that exacerbating religious tensions and threatens to further destabilize the situation on the ground,” she added, according to WAFA.

“They are part of a comprehensive policy aimed at changing the reality and demography of the holy city of Jerusalem, with the full support and aid from the U.S Trump administration and silence from the international community.

“Meanwhile, Israeli occupation authorities and the American administration have willfully participated in spreading falsehoods about religious freedom and freedom of worship in an attempt to shield Israel from the required international rebuke for these unacceptable policies and practices,” added Ashrawi.

“The international community has a responsibility to confront these practices, including the recent approval of over 800 settlement units that would complete the ring of settlements surrounding Jerusalem and separating it from its natural Palestinian surrounding. Responsible actors must also prevent a downward spiral into religious tensions that the extremist ideology of the fundamentalist right wing in Israel is provoking in Jerusalem,” the statement concluded.