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For many years, Palestinian Arab leaders warned Israel against dividing the Jewish Temple Mount in Jerusalem in time and place. That reality may be coming closer.

For centuries, Muslims had prevented Jews from going to their holy places in the Jewish holy land. In both Hebron and Jerusalem, Muslims declared that Jewish holy sites were purely Islamic and denied Jews any rights. That changed after the neighboring Arab states conspired to destroy Israel in June 1967 but lost control of those two holy cities which Jordan had illegally annexed in 1950.


After the 1967 war, Jews were finally able to go into the Cave of the Jewish Matriarchs and Patriarchs, which Muslims call the Ibrahimi Mosque. Israel made the site available to both Jews and Muslims and in June 2023, opened an elevator to facilitate visitation by handicapped persons in a broad effort of inclusivity.

While Israel took over the Old City of Jerusalem in the same June 1967 Six Day War, it handled the situation very differently, giving administrative control of the Jewish Temple Mount/ Al Aqsa Mosque Compound to the Jordanian Waqf, while Israel maintained security control. Even after eastern Jerusalem, including the site, was officially annexed as part of Israel, the Waqf continued to forbid Jews from praying at their holiest location, even as they allow a small number of Jewish visitors.

In October 2014, a Palestinian attempted to assassinate Rabbi Yehuda Glick because he advocated for peace and equal rights for both Jewish and Muslim prayer on the Temple Mount. In response, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority declared “Israel’s leaders are making a big mistake if they think they can turn back history, to impose a reality, and to divide the al-Aqsa Mosque [into separate prayers times and areas] as they divided the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.”

Rabbi Glick survived the four bullets and was nominated to the Israeli Knesset in 2016, continuing to advocate for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount. His efforts resulted in few practical changes, however, the number of Jewish visitors to the holy site has steadily increased since that time.

For his part, Mahmoud Abbas continues to warn Israeli leaders about Jewish prayer and dividing the Temple Mount. In April 2022, Jordanian politicians joined in condemning then-Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet’s non-controversial comments that Jews, Christians and Muslims should all be free to celebrate their holidays (Passover, Easter and Ramadan), which Arab leaders viewed as a precursor to dividing the Temple Mount.

The back-and-forth continues.

In early June 2023, Amit Halevi, a member of Knesset from Likud, put forward an official proposal to divide the religious site between Jews and Muslims, calling for the southern 30% of the compound – which includes the al Aqsa Mosque – to be for Muslims, and the northern 70% – which includes the Dome of the Rock where the Jewish Temples stood – to be for Jews. The political-terrorist group Hamas declared that such a proposal was part of an “Israeli religious war launched by the fascist Israeli government… [and] the Al-Aqsa mosque will remain an exclusively Muslim holy site and the Palestinian people will continue to defend the mosque against Israeli partition and Judaization schemes.” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh voiced concerns about the “order to impose temporal and spatial division in the blessed al Aqsa Mosque. We warn the occupation authorities against taking such a step that would have unpredictable results.”

Most of the media ignored the story, presumably because Halevi is a low-level MK without portfolio, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that he will uphold the Waqf’s antisemitic “status quo” banning Jewish prayer at the site.

The event be unreported, but the situation will not remain ignored.

There are competing natural desires which have long brewed in the holy land: for Palestinian Arabs to return into the land of Israel to towns where grandparents had lived; for Jews to pray openly and frequently at their holiest site on the Temple Mount; and to live throughout the area. For years, the United States attempted to keep a lid on those aspirations until President Obama reversed precedent, nodding to Arab migration into Israel (2012), while making it illegal according to international law for Jews to move to the eastern parts of Jerusalem and the holy land (2016), and maintaining the ban on Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.

The “status quo” is not a ban on Jews praying on the Temple Mount but on competing points of tension. The large holes in the holy land dam are readily apparent to everyone. One can ignore them and wait for the fissures to crack open unpredictably, or facilitate the spillway, with some Jews praying openly and discretely at their holiest site.

Related articles:

The Waqf and the Temple Mount

Open Letter To Politicians On Al Aqsa Mosque

The Inalienable Right of Jews to Pray on The Temple Mount

Time for King Abdullah of Jordan to Denounce the Mourabitoun

Visitor Rights on the Temple Mount

The UN’s Disinterest in Jewish Rights at Jewish Holy Places

Tolerance at the Temple Mount

{Reposted from the author’s site}


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Paul Gherkin is founder of the website FirstOneThrough, which is dedicated to educating people on Israel, the United States, Judaism and science in an entertaining manner so they speak up and take action. In a connected digital world, each person can be a spokesperson by disseminating news to thousands of people by forwarding articles or videos to people, or using the information to fight on behalf of a cause because In a connected digital world. YOU are FirstOneThrough.