In a meeting Tuesday evening with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu once again rejected accusations by the Palestinian Authority that Israel is seeking to change the "status quo" on the Temple Mount.
On the contrary, the prime minister accused the PA and Islamist groups of themselves attempting to breach the current arrangements, by trying to force an end to all Jewish visits to the Mount, which is the holiest site in Judaism.
"Israel is acting as any democracy would act to protect its citizens," Netanyahu said at a joint press conference with the UN Chief during the latter's surprise visit to the region.
"Israel guards the status quo – the Palestinians are the ones who are violating it, and Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] is fanning the flames."
"Over the past several weeks Israelis have suffered stabbing attacks and shooting attacks. This is happening because Mahmoud Abbas has joined with Hamas and ISIS by claiming that Israel is threatening the Al Aqsa Mosque."
"That is, of course, a lie," the PM continued. "Israel protects all holy places.
"The Palestinians are the one who brought explosives into the Al Aqsa Mosque," he noted, referring to Islamist rioters who frequently stockpile weapons in the mosque and use it as a base from which to attack Israeli security forces.
"I think it's important to speak the truth, and to talk about the roots of Palestinian terrorism: It's not the settlements or the lack of a peace process," Netanyahu said. "Mahmoud Abbas has not condemned a single terrorist attack and he continues to praise terrorists."