Here it comes:
Last year, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the King of Jordan Abdullah II reached an agreement affirming Jordanian jurisdiction over Islamic holy places in Jerusalem. The two leaders also agreed that Jordanian administration of the Haram al-Sharif would continue “as a trust” until the disappearance of the Israeli occupation.–Israel, however, made it clear by words and actions that that it would not respect the agreement.
Muslim authorities in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem have warned of dire consequences following recent Israeli measures, aimed at imposing Israeli (Jewish) sovereignty at the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) â€” the third holiest Muslim shrine â€” which houses the two main Muslim sanctuaries, the Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
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The Israeli Knesset or parliament last week briefly discussed a proposal to that effect. However,Â the discussion was suspended following a “secret warning” from Israel’s chief domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, that any tampering with the status-quo at the site, which Jews call “Temple Mount,” would spark off a huge conflagration in the region.
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None the less, hard-line lawmakers, many from the coalition government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu, vowed to “keep up the struggle going until the Temple Mount is liberated and placed fully under Israeli sovereignty.”
The Israeli army occupied East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967 and ever since the area has been administered by the Jordanian Ministry of Awqaf (Endowments) and Islamic Affairs.
Last year, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the King of Jordan Abdullah II reached an agreement affirming Jordanian jurisdiction over Islamic holy places in Jerusalem. The two leaders also agreed that Jordanian administration of the Haram al-Sharif would continue “as a trust” until the disappearance of the Israeli occupation.
Israel, however, made it clear by words and actions that that it would not respect the agreement. Indeed, Israeli authorities escalated its provocations against Muslim worshipers and permitted Jewish fanatics to tour the area and hold Talmudic rituals in defiance of Muslim sensibilities.
Last week, Moshe Feiglin, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, toured the Aqsa courts with heavy army and police escort. He reportedly shouted obscenities at Muslims, telling them “Go to the desert, go to Saudi Arabia.” Israeli government officials refused to condemn the provocation. Far from it, Israeli officials defended “the right of Jews to pray at the holiest spot on earth.”
|“We can’t accept Israeli efforts to steal or arrogate our rights. This is not a political matter, this is a matter of religious belief and faith.”|
Sheikh Muhammed Hussein, the highest-ranking Muslim official in Jerusalem, was asked what he thought of the latest Israeli provocations. “Of course, I cannot say I don’t take these threats extremely seriously. It seems these people are hell bent on causing a huge bloodbath in the region. Unfortunately, this is exactly what would happen if the Israeli government didn’t rein in these fanatics.”
The soft-spoken Sheikh was further asked to respond to those arguing that allowing Jews to merely hold prayers at the Haram al-Sharif would not be the end of the world and could actually defuse a huge crisis with possible catastrophic consequences. The Sheikh said: “Listen, this site has been an exclusively Islamic holy place for more than 1400 years. Yes, we are for peace and tranquility, yes we hate violence and bloodshed, and yes we respect the rights of others to practice their religions as they please.
“But this is an Islamic place. It belongs to Muslims. It has always belonged to Muslims. We can’t accept Israeli efforts to steal or arrogate our rights. This is not a political matter, this is a matter of religious belief and faith. Hence, our determination is to repulse Jewish plots and provocations.”
Virtually, all other Muslim officials spoke along the same lines, totally rejecting any Israeli encroachment at the Muslim sanctuary.
Not Accidental Timing
Sheikh Ikrema Sabri, another high-ranking Muslim cleric in Jerusalem and regular imam at Friday congregational prayer, was asked why he thought the Israeli authorities chose this time to up the aggression in Jerusalem. He said the Israeli were always seeking “the opportune time” to create trouble and trigger violence.
“They might think that the ongoing turbulence and instability in much of the Arab world constitute an opportune time to gang up on the Aqsa Mosque.
“But they are mistaken. The Aqsa Mosque is an integral part of each and every Muslim’s belief, and any aggression on it would draw unprecedented reactions at all levels.”
Sabri said, however, Muslims ought to ready themselves to face all eventualities. “We know the confrontation with Jews and Zionism will not end tomorrow. This is going to be a long confrontation and I have no doubt that Muslims will triumph at the end.”
In fact opposition to Israeli efforts to gain a foothold at the Islamic holy place is by no means confined to religious leaders.
Wasel Yousef is an outspoken member of the Executive Committee of the PLO. He said that imposing the Israel sovereignty at the Haram al-Sharif would be “the ultimate breaker of everything.” “Nothing would survive this, neither the peace process nor peace treaties, nothing. And the regimes won’t be able to rein in the masses.”
|“Nothing would survive this, neither the peace process nor peace treaties, nothing. And the regimes won’t be able to rein in the masses.”|
None the less, Arab reactions to Israeli provocations in Jerusalem have been generally weak and minimal.
On Feb. 25, 2014, 47 Jordanian lawmakers voted in favor of a motion, which is not legally binding, demanding to annul the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel of 1994. The lawmakers also called on the Jordanian government to expel the Israeli ambassador from Amman.
However, it is unlikely that King Abdullah, who runs the county’s foreign policy, will heed his parliament’s advice. Jordan, a chronically poor country, lives on foreign aid, particularly from western countries, most of which are allies of Israel.
The Army-backed Egyptian government also issued a verbal condemnation of “provocative Israeli behavior” and warned of negative consequences and ramifications on the peace process. Observers, however, interpret Arab condemnations of Israel, especially in these days, as largely disingenuous and mainly intended for “domestic consumption.”
Some of these regimes, like in Syria and Egypt, face serious legitimacy problems and might be prompted to think that adopting an anti-Israeli discourse, especially in public, could serve their immediate goals.
Peace-process Reaches Dead-end
|Some of these Arab regimes face serious legitimacy problems and might be prompted to think that adopting an anti-Israeli discourse, especially in public, could serve their immediate goals.|
Israeli efforts to change the status quo at the Haram al-Sharif of Jerusalem coincide with reports of the near collapse of US-mediated negotiations between Israel and the PA.
US Secretary John Kerry has urged the Palestinian leadership to agree to extend the duration of the talks several more months. The PA refused the American request. However, it is widely believed that President Obama will try to convince Abbas, whom he will meet in Washington in mid-March, to “give peace another chance.”
Palestinian officials have been saying that Kerry’s mediation efforts are going nowhere as Israel keeps expanding Jewish colonies at the Palestinians’ expense to the extent that it is no longer possible to establish a viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank.
Last week, former PA security Chief Tawfiq Tirawi was quoted by the Ma’an News agency, a mouthpiece of the PLO, as saying that he did not see any realistic chance for the appearance of a real Palestinian state in the next 20 years.