An emboldened Islamic Waqf Authority is demanding Israel reopen an area of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem that was closed more than a year ago by court order – and is joining the Palestinian Authority in threatening violence if Jerusalem Police don’t comply.
This comes after the Jordanian government last week broadened the size of the Waqf — which manages the Temple Mount Compound in accordance with agreements signed between Jordan and Israel after the 1967 Six Day War — from 11 members to 18.
The small compound being discussed is located on the eastern part of the Temple Mount, and is called the Bab a-Rahema. It was closed because the Islamic Movement, a radical Islamist movement banned by Israel, was using it as a meeting place. The Islamic Movement had ties to Hamas.
Jerusalem Police closed down the site in 2003, with an Israeli court order issued to lock it down until further notice, in 2017.
The Palestinian Authority is helping to heat up the situation together with Jordan and Hamas; all of them have issued condemnations of Israel, ordering the Jewish State to open the compound.
“We call on the government of Israel to take full responsibility for the tensions and the deterioration in the situation,” warned the office of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Last week, Muslim worshipers forced their way into the site through the “Golden Gate” – also known as the “Gate of Mercy” – and held prayers in the Bab a-Rahema.
The move followed the decision by the Jordanian government, reported by Haaretz, to add seven members to the previous 11-member Islamic Waqf which oversees management of the compound separately from religious leadership of the mosques on the Temple Mount.
Up to this point, the Waqf has been staffed solely by people linked to the Hashemite monarchy. But the newly-added members were selected from the Palestinian Authority and local Muslim leadership, and include top PA and PLO officials Khatem Abdel Kader and Adnan al-Husayni. Also among the new Waqf officials are the mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Hussein, and the president of Al-Quds University, Dr. Imad Abu Kishek, as well as Sheikh Ekrima Sabri – who is linked to the Turkish government.
This week dozens of Muslim worshipers once again tried to break through the gate to enter the compound, but this time they were stymied by chains placed on the gate by Jerusalem Police.
Frustrated, their efforts led to clashes with police, and five arrests.