JERUSALEM (JTA) — Benjamin Netanyahu called on Arab citizens not to believe "lies" by "an extremist minority" accusing Israel of digging under the Temple Mount.
"Last week, extremist elements tried to undermine quiet and peaceful life in Jerusalem," the Israeli prime minister said at the start of Monday’s Cabinet meeting, just hours before the opening of the Knesset’s winter session. "An extremist minority disseminated lies to the effect that we intend to dig, or were actually digging, under the Temple Mount. I would like to make it clear that this is an outright lie."
Netanyahu also appeared to be addressing the world Muslim community and the rumors that Israel planned to build a synagogue on the Temple Mount, according to reports.
"I appreciate the fact that the decisive majority of Israeli Arabs were not dragged after these provocations and did not allow the extremists to exploit the lies. This morning, I would like to appeal to Israel’s Arab citizens, who want to live good and peaceful lives here and tell you that you are an inseparable part of the State of Israel," he said. "Our intention is to implement the goals that we all share — peaceful coexistence, good neighborly relations and a prosperous future for our children as citizens with equal rights in the State of Israel."
Netanyahu’s remarks come after nearly two weeks of Muslim unrest in the capital, mostly surrounding the Temple Mount.
The Israeli leader also thanked the police and security forces, "who did, and are doing, their utmost to maintain quiet and public order."