Thursday, November 13, 2014

  • Thursday, November 13, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon
JCPA just released a paper describing what the real status quo has been on the Temple Mount since 1967, and how it has changed.

Reporters and politicians should read this rather than make blanket statements they know nothing about. It also shows how Dayan acted without any appreciation of the Jewish attachment to the Mount. Here are some excerpts:

There were few restrictions on visitors and none of Jews specifically in this 1925 book
(which incidentally acknowledged that the Jewish Temples were built there.).

A few hours after Israel won the Six-Day War and unified Jerusalem Moshe Dayan came to the Temple Mount and began to devise the arrangements that would eventually be called the status quo. He ordered the lowering of the Israeli flag that had been raised at the site and the removal of the force of paratroopers who had liberated the Mount and set up permanent quarters in the northern part of the compound. In the following days, Dayan acted alone consulting with only a few experts. His main advisor was David Farhi, an expert on Arab affairs and lecturer in the history of the Islamic lands at the Hebrew University.

Farhi, who greatly influenced Dayan, put special emphasis on Islam’s basic attitude toward Judaism. Dayan was apprised that for hundreds of years Jews had suffered in the Muslim world solely as an enslaved people, without rights to any political status. Having rejected the teachings of Muhammad, they had come to be seen as an accursed people that had distorted the message of God.
Dayan thought, and years later committed the thought to writing, that since the Mount was a “Muslim prayer mosque” while for Jews it was no more than “a historical site of commemoration of the past…one should not hinder the Arabs from behaving there as they now do and one should recognize their right as Muslims to control the site.”

Dayan believed that the new order he designed on the Mount was the best way to prevent the national-territorial conflict from turning into a religious one that would be much more dangerous.
The basic elements of the status quo he devised included:

  • The Waqf, as an arm of the Jordanian Ministry of Sacred Properties, would continue to manage the site and be responsible for arrangements and for religious and civil affairs there.
  • Jews would not be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount, but they would be able to visit it. (This right of freedom of access to the Mount was also eventually anchored within the context of the Protection of Holy Places Law.)
  • Israel, by means of its police force, would assume responsibility for security in the sacred compound, both within the site itself and regarding the wall and gates surrounding it.
  • Israeli sovereignty and law would be applied to the Temple Mount as to the other parts of Jerusalem, to which Israeli law was applied after the Six-Day War. (This stipulation was approved more than once by the Israeli High Court of Justice.)
  • It was later decided that the only entrance gate through which entry to the Mount by non-Muslims, including Jews, would be permitted would be the Mughrabi Gate, which is located at the center of the Western Wall, whereas Muslims would be able to enter the Mount through its many other gates.
  • Over the years the raising of flags of any kind was prohibited on the Mount.
Dayan felt duty-bound to try and create a barrier between religion and nationalism and prevent the conflict from taking on a religious hue. He believed that Islam should be allowed to exercise religious sovereignty over the Mount – religious sovereignty as opposed to national sovereignty. He thought it would thereby be possible to confine the Arab-Israeli conflict to the national-territorial dimension, while eliminating the potential for a conflict between the Jewish religion and the Muslim religion.

In granting Jews the right to visit the Temple Mount, Dayan sought to mitigate the power of Jewish demands for worship and religious sovereignty at the site.

In granting religious sovereignty to Muslims on the Temple Mount, Dayan believed he was mitigating the power of the site as a center for Palestinian nationalism.

In retrospect, the concession Dayan made in the name of the Jewish people was indeed immense, colossal, almost inconceivable. The Jewish state entrusted its holiest place to a competing religion – the Muslim religion, for which the place is only the third in holiness, and gave up the right to pray there.

What made this concession possible from the Jewish public’s standpoint was mainly the stance of the rabbis – both ultra-Orthodox and religious-Zionist. At that time (unlike today) an overwhelming majority of rabbis upheld the Halakhic prohibition on Jews entering the Temple Mount at all. From that standpoint, forbidding prayer at the site was not even relevant.

This was an alliance of interests – between religion and state – not often seen in Israel, and it won the backing of the High Court of Justice.15 Israel’s supreme legal authority indeed recognized Jews’ right to pray on the Temple Mount, but posited that this right was diminished by the near-certainty that exercising it would entail compromising public order and the security of the population as the conflict turned into a religious one. Thus, the triad of state, rabbis, and High Court of Justice made the status quo on the Temple Mount a lasting reality. In the first two decades after the Six-Day War, only few questioned it.

The following is a list of the changes in the status quo that have occurred on the Temple Mount, and the processes and considerations that led to them.

The original status quo barred Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, but it allowed Jews to visit it. Today, however, even visits to the Mount by Jews (even without prayer) are often prevented or substantially restricted.16

This change stems from the incitement, threats, and violence that the Muslims are deploying against the Jews who try to ascend the Temple Mount. At the crux of the incitement is the “Al-Aqsa is in danger” calumny, which is directed at the State of Israel and accuses it of intending and planning to topple the Al-Aqsa Mosque.17

In the past Jews were allowed to visit not only during the week but also on Sabbath days, and even within the mosques. Today that is no longer possible. Likewise, entry to the Mount by Jews having a religious appearance is limited to groups. Their visits are carefully monitored by Waqf guards and policemen. Visiting hours on the Mount for Jews and tourists have been restricted to Sunday through Thursday, for only four hours each day: three of them in the morning and one in the early afternoon.

...The considerable expansion of the Muslims’ prayer areas on the Mount is part of a proclaimed intent of the Muslims and the Waqf to turn the whole compound into a prayer area, thereby precluding any possibility in the future of even allocating a corner for Jewish prayer.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the intra-Muslim struggle over priority on the Temple Mount between actors such as Jordan, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel fostered intensive activity on the Mount by the last of those four. Concomitantly, the prayer areas of Solomon’s Stables and ancient Al-Aqsa were prepared, and the leader of the Northern Branch, Sheikh Raed Salah, who dubs himself “Sheikh Al-Aqsa,” greatly upgraded his own religious and political status at the site. Salah is known for radical and inflammatory sermons against the State of Israel, the Zionist movement and Jews, and for baseless calumnies about the Temple Mount.

In the face of this major change in the situation on the Mount, the Israeli government appeared weak and reluctant. It feared that more resolute action would ignite a conflagration, accepted what had been done after the fact, and in effect perpetuated the situation there indefinitely.

After the Six-Day War the state, and subsequently the High Court of Justice, had determined that the laws of the State of Israel applied to the Temple Mount.19 Today the situation is different. De jure, the State of Israel has indeed upheld this principle; de facto, already for many years the laws pertaining to planning, construction, and antiquities on the Temple Mount have not been enforced, or have been enforced only very partially and unofficially.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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