JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is cautioning Arabs not to believe "lies" circulating on the steet and in the Arab press that Israel is digging under the Temple Mount, which Muslims fear could undermine the Al Aqsa Mosque.
Seeking to quell the rumors that led to riots in Jerusalem last week, Netanyahu said during Monday's cabinet meeting that "an extremist minority" perpetuated the rumors, which he called "an outright lie."
"I appreciate the fact that the vast majority of Israeli Arabs were not dragged along after these provocations and didn't let the extremists exploit the lies," Netanyahu said. "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.," the prime minister continued.
Last week, Sheikh Raed Salah the Israeli Arab leader of the Islamic Movement's Northern Branch, said on Arab television that "the Israeli occupation seeks to build a synagogue on Al Aqsa Mosque. Salah was arrested for incitement after riots broke out. He was later released, but banned from Jerusalem for 30 days.
Israel's Labor and Trade Minister Benjamin ben-Eliezer warned Monday that some Israeli Arabs are joining with the terrorist group Hamas to come against Israel. He said that the Jewish state will "pay a heavy price if this is permitted to continue."
1.5 million Israeli Arabs live with 5.6 million Jews as citizens of Israel.
Sources: The Jerusalem Post, Ha'artz