The arrest of the Jerusalem Mufti on Tuesday for throwing chairs at Jews on the Temple Mount prompted the Jordanian parliament on Wednesday to demand that King Abdullah expel the Israeli envoy. The legislators also called to start a draft for a law to scrap the peace treaty with Israel.
Police arrested an Arab from entering the Temple Mount, and an enraged Grand Mufti and other Arabs began throwing plastic chairs at five Jews who entered the Temple Mount under police escort. Arab media said they prostrated themselves, an act of prayer that the Waqf prohibits, except for Muslims.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told The Washington Post the group did not carry out any act of prayer. As usual, Palestinian Authority media exaggerated the entire scene. Arab media always report that Jews “stormed” the Temple Mount. The Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency reported that 50, and not five, Jews prostrated themselves.
Israeli police stepped in to end the clash before it could get out of hand and arrested the Mufti, a rare action.
It did not take much time for Jordan to hear of the altercation, and the country’s parliament unanimously agreed that the kingdom should expel the Israeli ambassador and recall its own ambassador from Tel Aviv. The parliament added its own imagination to the facts and claimed that Israel is trying to build a bridge between the Al Aqsa mosque and Jerusalem “settlements.” The parliament also called for drafting legislation to scrap the peace treaty with Israel.
Several hours later, Israel released the Mufti, which probably was not related to the Jordanian parliament’s move. The government knows full well that the Arab world will not sit passive with the Jerusalem Mufti being taken from his home for interrogation.
The U.S. State Department was asked by reporters to comment on the fuss, and assistant spokesman Patrick Ventrell told them, “We urge all sides to respect the status quo of this holy site and to exercise restraint and refrain from provocative actions.
As usual, the State Dept. does not what it is talking about.
Status quo? From when? From 1967?
The Israeli government passed the Protection of Holy Places Law on June 27, 1967.
“The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places.”
The wise State Dept. does not also know much about the Mufti, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein.
In 2006, he stated that suicide bombings of Israelis were “legitimate, of course, as long as it plays a role in the resistance.”
On the other hand, one could say he simply was maintaining the status quo, which the Oslo Accords and the peace treaty with Jordan changed.
Jordan controlled the Temple Mount until the Six-Day War in 1967. Before then, Amman did not let Jews visit holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It also prohibited Christians from most churches and holy sites in the Old City, Judea and Samaria, except for few and far between visiting foreign dignitaries.
After Jerusalem was restored to Israel in 1967, the Israeli government didn’t want to have much to do with the Temple Mount for many reasons, not the least of which was the concern of a religious war with Muslims as well as the complicated and complex issue in Jewish law of whether it is even permitted for a Jew to ascend to the site of the destroyed First and Second Temples.
The government left authority for the Temple Mount site in the hands of the Muslim Waqf site, with the stipulation that Israeli police could patrol the site and enter the mosque area, if necessary.
The “status quo” ended in 1969, when an Australian evangelical Christian tried to burn down the mosque to hasten the Second Coming, if not World War III.
Muslims began to renovate buildings on the Temple Mount and tried to minimize the presence of Israel soldiers. A plot by a Jewish underground movement to blow up he Al Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock to awaken Jews to a spiritual revival, or alternatively, bring on World War III.
After the First Intifada broke out, Muslims protested at the holy site over a rumor that Jews were about lay the cornerstone of the Third Temple. Israeli police killed 22 Arabs in an effort to quell it Ever since, the Palestinian Authority has increasingly taken control of the Temple Mount, and the Muslim Waqf has tried to destroy any historical evidence that the Holy Temples ever existed.
Before Jordan signed the peace treaty, it insisted on a clause gave Amman a preferred status in future Israel-Arab talks over the Temple Mount.
The Palestinian Authority last week put a crowning touch on its effort to seal the fate of the Temple Mount and keep Jews out forever.
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas cashed in the chips several weeks ago.
He and Jordan’s King Abdullah signed an agreement with the “common goal to defend” Jerusalem and prevent Israeli from trying to make United Jerusalem Jewish.
The PA considers the agreement a stepping stone to taking over the Temple Mount and establishing Jerusalem as the capital of its desired independent country.
Palestinian Authority Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud al-Habash said the agreement confirmed Jordan’s role as protector of the city’s holy sites and “Palestinian sovereignty over all of Palestine, including its capital East Jerusalem,” according to Ma’an.
Abbas agreed that the Jordanian king is custodian of holy site in Jerusalem because he knows Jordan can exercise more diplomatic muscle than he can when it comes to “the historical principles agreed by Jordan and Palestine to exert joint efforts to protect the city and holy sites from Israeli judaization attempts.”
The entire hullabaloo over the arrest and release of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Jordanian parliament’s echoing the Egyptian threat to tear up the peace treaty with Israel brought shivers to President Shimon Peres.
Nothing is more important to President Peres than the word “peace,” and he staged in his Jerusalem Unification Day speech Wednesday, “Jerusalem is dear to us. The peace with Jordan is dear to us…. The peace that was achieved between us is peace for all Jewish, Muslim and Christian worshipers, as one.
“The whole world knows that when we heard the voice of peace coming from Egypt and Jordan, we did not reject them. We did not hesitate and we held out our hand for peace.”
He added that Israel defends the rights of all faiths to pray at their sites. Peres was proud that in Jerusalem, one can hear the sounds of church bells, the prayer calls of the Arab muezzin and the prayers of Jews at the Western Wall.
One can also hear the sound of chairs thrown by the Jerusalem Mufti at Jews on the Temple Mount.
About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.
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