Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
Joint Arab List chairman, MK Ayman Odeh, at the Knesset (Israeli parliament) on March 28, 2016

The four parties that comprise the Joint Arab List faction in the Knesset were unable to come to a decision on a joint statement condemning the vicious terror attack Friday on the Temple Mount, but apparently had no such difficulty when it came to warning Israel there is a looming threat of a third intifada.

Joint Arab List faction chairman MK Ayman Odeh announced Saturday night that Israel’s (temporary) closure of the Temple Mount on Friday and Saturday could lead to a “third” intifada.

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Speaking on Israel’s Channel 2 television news program, “Meet the Press,” Oden said, “Closing the Aqsa Mosque is explosive. The Second Intifada broke out on al-Aqsa. I warn against the third.”

The closure followed the deadly terror attack that left two Border Guard Police officers dead and more wounded. The two murdered officers were both members of the Druze community in northern Israel.

Odeh, however, attempted to turn the attack and its ramifications into a political skirmish with the Likud government. He accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of trying to “turn the conflict from a political to a religious one, which is why he backs provocative entry by settlers into the area of the mosque.”

In fact, no Jews are allowed anywhere near either Islamic house of worship in the Temple Mount compound, although Jews are allowed to tour the grounds for a very limited amount of time. Jews are not allowed to pray at all on the site, and they are immediately whisked away if they are spotted even moving their lips without sound, closing their eyes, or bowing in any way. No Jewish religious articles are allowed on the site.

Odeh and other Israeli Arab leaders did condemn the killing of the two police officers, both of whom were members of Israel’s Druze community — but couldn’t agree on one joint statement. The four Arab parties who comprise the joint list each issued their own, a situation which the Druze community said did not reflect a real condemnation.

But members of the list deeply condemned the closure of the site, ignoring the need to investigate the attack, and in their statements referred to the “struggle against the occupation” — albeit a non-violent one — describing the Temple Mount as a “holy place for Muslims alone.”

Members of the Ta’al party said they “reject violence of any kind, including at holy places,” but also blamed the “occupation of the Al Aqsa Mosque” as the “root of the problem.”

A number of list members tried to blame the prime minister for allowing Jews to enter the site, calling the practice “incitement.”

Likewise, a statement issued Saturday by the southern branch of the Islamic Movement said “Occupation policies and steps are the direct cause for these operations. The decision of the prime minister to continue the closure of al-Aqsa Mosque proves the government ignores the reality that the mosque is a red line that the Muslims individually and collectively will never waver in defending.

“Its closure is a rejected and condemned violation of the sanctity of the holy site, and a vicious attempt to impose a new fait accompli in which Israel consolidates its occupation of blessed al-Aqsa Mosque.”

But while Arab leaders were busy posturing and issuing hysterical statements and threats to whip their constituents into a frenzy of hate, Israel’s security leaders — including the prime minister — had already decided to gradually reopen the site beginning at noon on Sunday (July 16), with enhanced security measures.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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