Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Temple Mount, Arab rage, sovereignty and Peace Treaties

Later today, February 25, 2014, the Israel Knesset is scheduled to discuss the question of Jewish sovereignty over the Temple Mount. This will be, it is said, a first. It will be the first time the Knesset has taken a serious look at the Temple Mount since June, 1967, when Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldiers took the Mount from Arab control during fighting in the 1967 Six-Day War (“Riots on the Temple Mount Injure Two Police Officers”, Arutz Sheva, February 25, 2014).

The issue has come to the Knesset because Jews are regularly blocked by both Israeli police and the Arab Waqf, which is the Muslim Administrator of the Mount. Jews may ascend to the Mount only when police allow. Police often prohibit Jews from going up to the Mount because of Waqf demand.

The way things stand right now, if Jews ascend the Mount, they are not allowed to pray. If they are caught praying, they will be arrested. If they appear to be praying, they will be arrested. If they stand in one spot and move their lips, they will be arrested. If they bring to the Mount items deemed ‘religious’ (by the police and/or the Waqf), they will be arrested.

Earlier this year, Police confiscated dried fruit from children on the Mount. Police said the fruit was ‘religious’ (“Police Ban Dried Fruit on Temple Mount”, Arutz Sheva, January 16, 2014).

Police have warned Jewish children: do not bow while on the Mount. You will be arrested. On one tour to the Mount, children who bowed were warned by Police. The Police then threatened to arrest the children’s tour guide (“Police Warn Jewish Children for Bowing on Temple Mount”, Arutz Sheva, July 9. 2013).

Muslims do not want Jews on the Mount (“Islamic Movement Leader: Temple Mount for Muslims Only”, Arutz Sheva, December 8, 2013). They say the Mount is holy—and Jews taint that holiness. The holy Mount, they say, is for the holy Muslim only.

Muslims ascend to the holy Temple Mount whenever they want. They pray there. But they also play soccer. They play ball. They picnic (“Has the Temple Mount become a Theme Park?”, Arutz Sheva, July 9, 2013). The only time police restrict their Mount movement is when Arabs appear ready to riot.

Tensions have been running high for more than a year. On several occasions, Muslims on the Mount have physically assaulted Jews. They have physically blocked Jews from getting into the Mount area.

Police have almost always sided with the Muslims. Even when a Member of Knesset (MK) has attempted to ascend, s/he has often been stopped. MKs have a certain immunity. But not for the Mount.

Last year, matters came to a head when a newly elected MK,  Moshe Feiglin, attempted to ascend. He was turned back by police.

Feiglin had been ascending to the Mount regularly as a private citizen for years. He has been stopped many times, but always allowed to go forward. Then, April, 2013, he was informed by police that he was banned from the Mount. Now, some ten months later, he is finally approved to ascend.

Tonight, he joins the Knesset in discussions to take full sovereignty of the Temple Mount—so that Jews going there will no longer be discriminated against. This morning, Arabs rioted on the Mount (“Riots on the Temple Mount Injure Two Police Officers”, Arutz Sheva, February 25, 2104). That riot was no coincidence. Muslims know how to frighten Israel’s Left. They need to motivate that Left to stop those Knesset discussions. Arab riots always motivate the Jewish Left.

None of this should be happening. The issue of Jewish worship at the Temple Mount has been settled since 1994. Israel’s Prime Minister should phone King Hussein of Jordan, explain the problem, and have the King order the Waqf to permit Jews to worship at the Temple Mount. Period.

The King should comply with that request. He shouldn’t have to be asked to do that. As soon as he hears the nature of the problem, he should volunteer to pull the Waqf (whom he officially oversees) ‘back into line’.

King Hussein should do that because he signed a Treaty with Israel in 1994. In that Treaty, both Israel and Jordan (who has oversight responsibility for the Mount area) agreed to assure that there would be freedom of access and freedom of worship to all Holy sites in Israel to all religions.

If the Waqf does not understand ‘free access and free worship to all religions’, the King should use his troops to explain it to him. The King committed himself to a promise. Why doesn’t Israel call him on that promise?

It does not matter that the King could renege. It doesn’t matter because Israel should tell US Secretary of State John Kerry that it has excellent relations with the good Jordan King; Israel likes him. But if the wonderful King will not or (because of political pressure) cannot abide by a Treaty with Israel, Israel could not possibly trust someone (Mahmoud Abbas) who is not so friendly.

Israel should tell Mr Kerry that the key to peace is the Temple Mount.

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