Is the Temple Mount in Israel’s hands? If the nationalist Knesset members don’t provide the answer, the Arab MKs will do so in their place.
Who is the sovereign on the Temple Mount? Official Israeli claims, of course, are that it is the sovereign. But in practice, the sovereignty is being transferred to Jordan – both on the ground and by ignoring international treaties that are being signed behind Israel’s back.
According to the Jordanian foreign minister, “An agreement was signed last year between King Abdullah and the president of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas]. The agreement endorses the historic, existing situation regarding the Hashemite control of the holy places.” He added that Jordan’s control over the Mount enjoys an international consensus. “The entire world and all the religions accept the existing reality,” he said. (Translated from the Hebrew in a February 19 NRG article.)
When I found out that an agreement had been signed to transfer the Temple Mount from the Palestinian Authority to Jordan, I asked Prime Minister Netanyahu how it could be that Israel was not reacting? Would you also be quiet, I asked him, if a second party would sell your house to a third party? After all, it is clear that Israel’s silence in the face of this agreement, publicized throughout the world, is really its tacit approval.
Replying on behalf of the Israeli government, Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir said the following: “Israel is the sovereign in Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount. It administers the most holy place for Jews while considering the fact that the site is holy for Muslims as well, and on the basis of its commitment in the peace agreement with Jordan, in which it was stipulated that ‘Israel respects the special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the places holy to Muslims in Jerusalem.’ Nothing less than that, but also nothing more. It has nothing to do with the agreement signed between Jordan and the PA – an agreement that does not bind Israel. That is all.”
Here’s my answer to Yair Shamir: “I did not receive an answer to my third question: What about Israel? I presume that if I would sell the honorable minister’s home to his neighbor, the honorable minister would oppose the move. We did not hear any voice of opposition from the Israeli government or from the prime minister of Israel over the fact that the Palestinian Authority decided to transfer the sovereignty on the Temple Mount to Jordan. Does the honorable minister, in the name of the government of Israel, say clearly now from the podium of the Knesset of Israel that the government of Israel sees itself as sovereign on the Mount and any agreement transferring the sovereignty from a second party to a third party is null and void? Am I correct, honorable minister?”
I did not receive a clear answer. That is why it is so important for the Knesset’s Jewish members to have its say on the issue of sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Jordanian pressure is taking its toll, presumably translated into pressure that ends up being exerted upon the nationalist Knesset members. If, God forbid, the Jewish MKs do not have their say, the Arab MKs will be able to pass any legislative measure they wish – with all the implications of that eventuality.
Forty-seven years after our paratroopers liberated the Mount with their blood and shouted “The Temple Mount is in our hands,” the question arises: Will our Jewish MKs have the courage to repeat that sentence in the Knesset?
This article originally appeared in Hebrew in Makor Rishon.