Last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his security cabinet caved in to the demands of the PLO and its partners in Hamas, the Islamic Movement, Jordan, Iran and Turkey by agreeing to remove metal detectors and other security screening equipment from the Temple Mount. The equipment was installed last month in response to Palestinian incitement and acts of jihadist violence against Israelis, including the murder of two policemen, at Judaism’s holiest site.
After polls showed 77% of Israelis felt he and his cabinet members capitulated to terrorism, Netanyahu issued a statement thanking US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and Trump’s senior negotiator Jason Greenblatt for their help in resolving the crisis.
The underlying message of Netanyahu’s statement was that he and his ministers folded like a cheap suit to our enemies’ demands, effectively ceding Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount to our enemies because Kushner and Greenblatt pressured them to do so.
But then this week, a congressional intern did us the favor of surreptitiously recording and leaking remarks Kushner made on the issue in off-record remarks to interns at the White House. Kushner’s remarks, which came in response to a question about his role in mediating the Palestinian conflict with Israel, were fairly detailed.
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The crisis between Israel and the Palestinians that raged in recent weeks over the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa holy site in Jerusalem has died down, but the affair provides important clues about the rising ability of fundamentalist Islamists to seize control of the narrative.
Radical rhetoric espoused by those who sought to inflame religious conflict dominated the Temple Mount crisis.
“Israel wants more than ever before to implement its plan for complete control over al-Aksa Mosque,” Hamas politburo chief Ismael Haniyeh said, even after Israel moved to defuse the situation. Days earlier, Hamas had called for a “religious war” against Israel.
Islamists in Gaza, Jordan, east Jerusalem, and within the Israeli Arab community, had the upper hand in their ability to push their interpretation of events. They claim Israel wants to take over the holy site and destroy the mosque to make way for a third Temple. This baseless narrative sweeps away the terrorist attack that caused the crisis and presented three Palestinians killed in subsequent clashes with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem as martyrs who died defending Islam.
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The controversy surrounding the Israeli authorities’ decision to place metal detectors at the gates of the Temple Mount calls to mind the famous Arab saying, “he beat me and cried then came to me to complain.” This inversion of reality is a common among perpetrators who pretend to be victims.
The decision to install the metal detectors came after Arab terrorists murdered two Israeli police officers at the Temple Mount on July 14. The three terrorists — Israeli Arab citizens from the city of Umm al-Fahm — used a submachine gun and knives to carry out their attack. The weapons were easily smuggled into the Temple Mount thanks to Muslim worshippers not having been required to pass through metal detectors or undergo body searches by policemen stationed at the gates.
Incredibly, the Palestinians have since been waging daily protests against the new Israeli security measures, demanding that the metal detectors be removed from the entrances to the Temple Mount. As part of the protests, Palestinian leaders have urged Muslim worshippers not to enter the Temple Mount through the metal detectors and instead to pray at the entrances to the holy site.
The Palestinian Authority (PA), Jordan and other Arab and Islamic countries are accusing Israel of violating the status quo at the Temple Mount by installing the metal detectors.
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“Israel is damaging the Temple Mount and threatening Islamic shrines.” top
“We denounce this blatant act of provocation and the complete disregard for the sanctity of the holy mosque. This act will ignite the feelings of Muslims all over the world and is in fact a retrogressive step in the efforts to achieve peace in the region.”116 This statement from the Malaysian Foreign Minister refers to the Israeli excavation and plan for construction at the site of the Mugrabi ramp in the Old City of Jerusalem and serves as a call to action and incitement rather than as a warning of a concerned observer.
In February 2004, the Mugrabi ramp, which provided access to the Temple Mount, collapsed as a result of numerous natural disasters. The Jerusalem Municipal Authority approved the building of a permanent bridge to replace the wooden structure that was built as a temporary entry. The commencement of an archeological dig, required by law to salvage any artifacts in the area before construction begins, has been met with outrage and violence from the Islamic world, which claims that Israel’s actions are meant to destroy Islam’s third holiest site to replace it with the Third Temple.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Turkey continues to insert itself more and more into the ongoing clashes on the Temple Mount, almost as if it legally represents the Palestinians in the dispute. Turkey’s anti-Israel agitation, which garners wide support among Palestinians in both Gaza and the PA, is hardly new. But its patronage of the Palestinians hides more than religious sentiment. Turkish anti-Zionism, which aligns directly with anti-Semitism, is being expressed once again through the current friction.
In May 2017, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke at the opening ceremony of a two-day conference in Istanbul called “The International Forum on al-Quds Waqf.” He condemned “Israeli crimes against the Palestinians” and called on Muslims to visit the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount as frequently as possible. “As a Muslim community, we need to visit the al-Aqsa Mosque often,” he said. “Each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us.”
On July 20, 2017, responding to increased security measures on the Temple Mount following the murders of two Israeli policemen there at the holy site, he said: “Any restriction on Muslims entering the al-Aqsa Mosque is unacceptable…The protection of the Islamic character and sanctity of al-Quds [Jerusalem] and al-Haram al-Sharif [the al-Aqsa Mosque complex] is important for the whole Muslim world…The Muslim world cannot remain silent.”
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