Restrictions on Religious Freedom
The Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), contains the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, among the most holy sites in Islam. Jews refer to the same place as the Temple Mount and consider it the location of the ancient Jewish temple. The location has been, with all of East Jerusalem, under Israeli security control since 1967, when Israel captured the city (East Jerusalem was formally annexed in 1980, and thus Israel applies its laws to East Jerusalem). The Haram al-Sharif is administered, however, by the Islamic waqf, a PA-affiliated but Jordanian-funded and administered Muslim religious trust for East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli police control the compound's entrances, and limit access to the compound. The waqf can object to entrance of particular persons, such as non-Muslim religious radicals, or to prohibited activities, such as prayer by non-Muslims or disrespectful clothing or behavior, but lacks authority to remove anyone from the site, and thus must rely on Israeli police to enforce site regulations. In practice, waqf officials claimed that police often allowed religious radicals (such as Jews seeking to rebuild the ancient Temple on the site and to remove the mosques) and immodestly dressed persons to enter and often were not responsive to enforcing the site's rules.
While non-Muslims (except guests of the waqf) were not allowed to enter the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount from September 28, 2000 (the date of former Likud party head Ariel Sharon's visit which sparked unrest) until August 2003, non-Muslims could visit the site during designated visiting hours. The Israeli government, as a matter of stated policy, has prevented non-Muslims from worshipping at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount since 1967. Israeli police consistently did not permit public prayer on public safety grounds and publicly indicated that this policy has not changed in light of the renewed visits of non-Muslims to the compound or the court ruling on the issue. Waqf officials contend that the Israeli police, in contravention of their stated policy and the religious status quo, have allowed members of radical Jewish groups to enter and to worship at the site. Spokesmen for these groups have claimed successful attempts to pray inside the compound in interviews with the Israeli media. The Waqf interprets police actions as part of an Israeli policy to incrementally reduce Waqf authority over the site and to give non-Muslims rights of worship in parts of the compound.
Since October 2000, the Israeli government, citing security concerns, prevented most Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza from reaching the Haram al-Sharif by prohibiting their entry into Jerusalem. Restrictions were often placed on entry into the Haram al-Sharif even for Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, such as a frequently implemented restriction on males under the age of forty-five.
There were also disputes between the Muslim administrators of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and Israeli authorities regarding Israeli restrictions on waqf attempts to carry out repairs and physical improvements on the compound and its mosques. In 2005 Palestinian workers under direction of Jordanian engineers worked on restoring tiles on the Dome of the Rock and Ottoman-era stones on the southern and eastern walls of the compound. Israeli authorities prevented the waqf from conducting several improvement projects or removing debris from the site, alleging that the waqf was attempting to alter the nature of the site or to discard antiquities of Jewish origin.
In previous years, Muslims at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount threw stones at Jewish worshippers on the Western Wall plaza, leading to major police confrontations; however, there were no incidents of stone-throwing at the plaza during the period covered by this report.
Palestinian media frequently published and broadcast material criticizing the Israeli occupation, including dismissing Jewish connections to Jerusalem. In September 2005 Sheikh Taysir al-Tamimi, the chief justice and president of the Higher Shari'a Council, called the Israeli government's claim of a Jewish connection to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount a "baseless lie" and provocation to Muslims everywhere. Al-Tamimi also warned against the "Judaization" of Jerusalem. Rhetoric by Palestinian terrorist groups included expressions of anti-Semitism.
There were instances of Jewish-nationalist extremists harassing Muslims. On several occasions, a group of Jewish-nationalist extremists known as the Temple Mount Faithful attempted to force their way inside the wall enclosing the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. In addition, the same group periodically attempted to lay a cornerstone for the building of a new Jewish temple that would replace the Islamic Dome of the Rock shrine, an act that Muslims considered an affront.
and this, regarding infractions and violations of the DOP, otherwise known as the Oslo Accords:-
During the reporting period, Palestinian violence against Israeli settlers prevented some Israelis from reaching Jewish holy sites in the Occupied Territories, such as Joseph's Tomb near Nablus. Since early 2001, following the outbreak of the Intifada, the Israeli government has prohibited Israeli citizens in unofficial capacities from traveling to the parts of the West Bank under the civil and security control of the PA. This restriction prevented Israeli Arabs from visiting Muslim and Christian holy sites in the West Bank, and it prevented Jewish Israelis from visiting other sites, including an ancient synagogue in Jericho. Visits to the Jericho synagogue ceased after disagreements erupted between Israel and the PA over security arrangements.