Likud Leader’s Temple Mount Visit Prompts Palestinian Stone-throwing

Some 30 Israeli policemen were wounded on the Temple Mount this week when angry Palestinian demonstrators attacked them with stones.

The Palestinians were protesting Thursday’s visit to the site by Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon and a group of Likud Knesset members.

The policemen suffered light wounds. They fired rubber bullets, reportedly wounding two Palestinians. The Knesset members were protected by a large number of police officers.

Four Arab Knesset members came to the site as well, and engaged in a heated exchange with the Likud Knesset members. They shouted “murderer” at Sharon. Abdulmalik Dehamshe of the United Arab List and a Palestinian leader, Faisal Husseini, claimed police attacked them.

The visit lasted for about an hour, during which the Knesset members visited the site of Solomon Stables, which the Palestinians have turned into a new mosque.

Sharon said recent digging and construction works carried out by the Wakf, the Islamic religious authority, have caused considerable damage to the site. He said his visit was no provocation because every Jew has the right to visit the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount is holy to both Jews and Arabs.

Justice Minister Yossi Beilin said that although the visit was “legitimate,” Sharon “succeeded to make everything a provocation.”

Knesset member Yossi Sarid, leader of the secular Meretz Party, said the visit to Temple Mount was really part of the race between Sharon and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the leadership of the Likud.

Several stone-throwing attacks were reported in other parts of Jerusalem later Thursday.

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