UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process Nickolay Mladenov warned the United Nations Security Council in prepared remarks on Tuesday (July 25) that the risk is rising that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is spiraling into a religious conflict.
“Let us make no mistake that while events in Jerusalem may be taking place over a couple hundred square meters in Jerusalem, they affect hundreds of millions of people around the world,” he said.
“As we have seen over these past 11 days, it is vital that the status quo, established since 1967, be preserved while security be maintained for worshipers and visitors to the holy sites. I encouraged Israel to continue its intense contacts with Jordan, recognizing the special and historic role of the Hashemite Kingdom.
“All parties must refrain from provocative actions, show restraint, and bring a conclusive end to this crisis in the next few days. In these efforts, constant discussion with the Islamic religious authorities in Jerusalem and the Palestinian leadership can greatly contribute to maintaining calm in East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied West Bank,” he said.
“Jerusalem remains a final status issue that needs to be decided and negotiated between the two sides,” he maintained. “As the occupying power, Israel has a responsibility to uphold its obligations under International Human Rights Law and Humanitarian Law, and must show maximum restraint in order to avoid further loss of life and an escalation of the situation.
“At the same time, Palestinian leaders also have a responsibility to avoid provocative statements that further aggravate an already tense environment. I am particularly concerned by statements made over the past weeks by some factions that have sought to fan the flames of violence. Such provocations are dangerous and I call on all to condemn them.”
Well-meaning though he is, Mladenov seems to miss the point. Discussion with the Palestinian Authority leadership is impossible when its leadership announces it is suspending “all contacts” with Israel, as PA leader Mahmoud Abbas did four days ago. He renewed that declaration even after Israel removed the allegedly offending metal detectors installed at the entrances to the Temple Mount after two Israeli police officers were murdered by Arab terrorists who had smuggled their arms into the holy site days earlier with the assistance of an unnamed accomplice.
Moreover, Muslim leaders continuing to rally support to “fight” any security measures at the Temple Mount whatsoever – including cameras – and have now added a brazen vow to seize the Western Wall, or the Wailing Wall (Kotel), claiming it too is a solely Islamic site. Known in Islam as the Al Buraq Wall, the other side of the wall is known as the place where Islam’s founder, the Prophet Mohammed tied the Buraq, the riding animal upon which he rode during the Night of Ascension (Mi’raj).
These claims make it clear the issue of the Temple Mount security measures was a manufactured excuse with which to launch a pre-planned third intifada, in much the same manner as it was in 2000, when then-Opposition Leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Sharon did not approach either of the mosques in the compound and his visit was brief, ending by 8:30 am. But nightfall Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat was already calling on the entire Arab and Islamic world to “move immediately to stop these aggressions and Israeli practices against holy Jerusalem,” and describing the visit as defilement of the site.
The second intifada began on September 28, 2000 and lasted until February 8, 2005, resulting in the construction of the miles-long Israeli security barrier that permanently divided the people living in pre and post 1967 Israel, and parts of the Palestinian Authority. The barrier was almost completely effective in blocking suicide bombers from attacking the Israeli population. It outraged the international community which condemned the Jewish State for its construction, but it saved many, many Jewish lives.
It remains to be seen whether or not the flaming rhetoric now being delivered by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Hezbollah secretary-general Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, various Fatah officials, Jerusalem Grand Mufti Mohammed Ahmed Hussein, Jordanian Parliament Speaker Atef Tarawneh and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh will be enough to launch a third intifada against Israel.
With Syria in complete disarray, and tens of thousands of missiles in the arsenals of Iranian proxy groups across Israel’s borders on two fronts – both north and south – in addition to Islamic State terrorist bases in the Sinai Peninsula as well as in Syria, the external threat combined with those from Fatah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Judea and Samaria raises the bar in terms of the military challenge facing the Israel Defense Forces, and the political quagmire facing the leadership of the Jewish State.