RAMALLAH, Palestine 

Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh has criticized visits by Arab delegations to Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque under Israeli police protection.

“Al-Aqsa Mosque shall be entered through the gate of its owners, not through the gate of the Israeli occupation,” Shtayyeh said during the weekly cabinet meeting on Monday.

“It is sad to see some Arab delegations entering the compound through the Israeli gate, while worshippers are denied access to it to perform their prayers,” he said.

On Sunday, a delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) visited Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of Israeli forces.

The visit came as Bahrain and Israel signed a deal on Sunday formalizing their diplomatic relations.

Shtayyeh described the Bahraini-Israeli deal as a “free reward to the Israeli occupation to encourage it to confiscate more Palestinian land and build more settlements”.

Bahrain, the UAE and Israel agreed to establish full diplomatic, cultural, and commercial relations following the signing of controversial normalization agreements on Sept. 15 at the White House.

The moves have been followed by a series of announcements on agreements and contracts between firms from all three nations.

The normalization deals have drawn widespread condemnation from Palestinians, who say the deals ignore their rights and do not serve the Palestinian cause.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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