The head of the world's largest Islamic organization has paid a rare visit to Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque in a bid to strengthen Palestinian claims to the holy site.

Iyad Madani, secretary-general of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, urged the world's Muslims to follow suit and visit Al-Aqsa, the third-holiest site in Islam.

During the visit Monday, Madani prayed at the iconic Dome of the Rock. He said: "It is our right to come here and to pray here."

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed the area in a move that is not internationally recognized. Al Aqsa is located on a hilltop compound revered by Jews and Muslims, and the conflicting claims to the site have frequently spilled over into violence.