Elements of Trump’s peace deal have now been revealed, and the Palestinian Authority has gone all out to condemn it.
The Arabs don’t want any arrangement with Israel and don’t want Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital. “Palestine is not for sale and Jerusalem is not up for negotiation,” said Fatah Council Secretary Majed Al-Fatiani.
What does Jerusalem have to do with this? Everything. Jerusalem is always the crux of the matter – a fact the Arabs wake up to when it’s politically expedient for them to do so.
Al-Fatiani said Fatah’s Revolutionary Council will dedicate the 24th, 25th, and 26th of this month to “Palestine and Jerusalem to express [its] rejection of the Bahrain Conference.” He also said the “Palestinian people” will use “all means available to it to defeat the occupation and the settlement.”
Israel, for its part, is not standing idly by. Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan signed an order on Friday to prevent the PA from holding a conference entitled “Jerusalem, the Capital of Palestine” in the Old City. The event was to include songs of PA “nationhood,” praise of the Palestinian Authority, and the distribution of PA certificates and awards.
Similar events have already been held in Ramallah and Shechem, where Israel has no say. Within pre-’67 Israel, however, and anywhere in Jerusalem, Israeli law forbids the PA from opening offices or holding official gatherings. Minister Erdan has enforced this law over the years, issuing orders, for example, to stop a commemorative PA-funded event in eastern Jerusalem and a conference in Silwan promoting PA attempts to take over eastern Jerusalem.
Erdan is trying to bolster this law by initiating an amendment enabling him to file indictments against, and ask for three-year jail sentences for, organizers of illegal events undermining Israel’s sovereignty.
Remember the Orient House building, not far from the Old City, from which the PA organized terror attacks and sought to establish its “national” government? In 1999, Binyamin Netanyahu ordered the building closed, but the Supreme Court intervened and nullified the order. Two years later, after the Sbarro suicide bombing in which 15 Israelis were murdered, PM Ariel Sharon closed the headquarters. Nearly a year ago, Minister Erdan extended the closure order.
These firm responses by Israel are crucial in the face of renewed claims of undying, historic Muslim links to Jerusalem. It bears repeating that while Yerushalayim is mentioned hundreds of time in the Bible, it is not mentioned even once in the Koran. Muslims actually turn their backs on Jerusalem when they pray!
And how ironic is it that the Muslim name for Jerusalem is Al-Quds – an abbreviation of a previous Arabic name of the city, “Bet Al-maKDeS,” referring to none other than the Beit HaMikdash, our Holy Temple? Thus, the name used by Arabs to “Arab-ize” Jerusalem actually marks the city’s Jewishness!
The awakening of supposed Muslim religious ties to Jerusalem means only that Islam wants to conquer Jerusalem for political, nationalistic, or military reasons. Muhammad was the first to use Jerusalem for his own purposes. Seeking to win over the Jews to his religion, he announced that prayers should be directed towards Jerusalem. As soon as he was rebuffed, however, he skillfully re-directed Muslim prayers towards Mecca.
When the Muslims later conquered the Holy Land, they totally ignored Jerusalem and established their capital in Ramle!
This pattern has repeated itself again and again in history. Around the year 700, Caliph Abdel Malik, shamed by having lost Mecca and Medina in battle to a rival Muslim leader, came up with the idea of renewing Jerusalem as a “top holy city.” Some five centuries later, Saladin needed to inflame his Muslim warriors against the Christian Crusaders – and, again, Jerusalem briefly became the focus of jihad and religious longing.
For centuries after, however, Jerusalem remained in the Muslim background, overshadowed by the cities of Mecca and Medina.
Today, once again, the Muslim world has taken to claiming Jerusalem as a pinnacle of its religious aspirations even though the PLO’s founding charter in 1964 didn’t even mention Jerusalem!
But don’t bother Muslims with the facts; nor will facts alone win us the war of public opinion. Aliyah to Jerusalem must continue and increase, all efforts to Islamicize Jerusalem must be firmly rebuffed, and Israel must assert its sovereignty throughout united Jerusalem in every way.