JERUSALEM, Jan 13 (Reuters & JMCC) - An Israeli court jailed an Islamist leader on Wednesday for his part in Palestinian protests in 2007 near Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque, police said.
Raed Salah, an outspoken cleric from the Jewish state's 20-percent Arab minority, was convicted of disorderly conduct and assault after scuffles with police who confronted protesters during engineering work near Islam's third holiest site.
The sentencing caused one Arab leader in Israel to announce that he will ask for a meeting with Israel's president to discuss a wave of indictments against his peers.
Today it's Raed Salah, in February the trial of Knesset Member Mohammad Barakeh will open, and MK Said Naffaa will be prosecuted later on. This is a foul wave which must be stopped, Mohammad Zeidan, head of the HIgher Arab Monitoring Commmittee told Ynet.
Salah said he was innocent of charges that he spit and scuffled with Israeli police during demonstrations at Jerusalem's mosque.
Palestinians complained excavations at the site threatened the foundations of al-Aqsa. Israel said the work was intended to shore up the structures against natural erosion.
Israel captured Jerusalem's Old City and the rest of Arab East Jerusalem from Jordanian control in 1967. Since then, many Muslims have voiced fears, despite Israeli denials, that Jews may seek to take over the al-Aqsa compound, an area Jews revere as the site of their destroyed Biblical temples.
Clashes around al-Aqsa three months ago, during which Saleh was also detained, were the latest of many over the site, which remains at the heart of particularly thorny disputes between Israel and the Palestinians over control of Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court sentenced Salah to nine months in jail for the 2007 incident, to begin next month. He received an additional suspended sentence of six months.
Salah's lawyer said he would consider an appeal.
The Israeli state, which is occupying al-Aqsa, is trying to distract from its real crime and to satisfy the mood in Israel by convicting the honourable Sheikh Salah, attorney Khaled Zabarqa told Reuters.
Salah previously served a two-year jail sentence after being convicted of sending money to needy Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Zabarqa said. Israeli prosecutors said some of the money was to be used by anti-Israel armed groups. (Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Alastair Macdonald and Jon Boyle)