A top aide to PLO leader Yasser Arafat prayed Friday on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, the highest-ranking official to visit the holy site from autonomous Palestinian lands.
Police posted an additional 50 paramilitary police around the mount during Nabil Shaath's visit, but no incidents were reported.Right-wing Israeli legislators contend that visits to Jerusalem by Palestinian officials are politically motivated and have harshly criticized the government for permitting them.
Shaath spent more than an hour on the mount, visiting the Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques. The mount, known in Arabic as the Haram al-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary, is Islam's third-holiest site, after Mecca and Medina.
It is Judaism's holiest site as home of the Western Wall, a remnant of the second ancient Jewish Temple.
"I am very happy, I'm euphoric," Shaath told reporters. "I only saw it on postcards, but it was always in my dreams and in my heart."
He said the last time he visited the mosques was before his family fled the region after the state of Israel was created 46 years ago.
Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their would-be state. Israel, which captured the city's eastern sector from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it, has said it will never redivide the city.