Monday, August 31, 2020

  • Monday, August 31, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
In Palestine reports:

Normalisation of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) could have significant impacts on the sensitive status of Al-Aqsa Mosque, a report by Israeli NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem has warned.

The report challenged the wording in reference to Al-Aqsa in a joint statement by US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, on 13 August.

The statement, which has been condemned by Palestinians across the political spectrum, says that “all Muslims who come in peace may visit and pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque, and Jerusalem’s other holy sites should remain open for peaceful worshippers of all faiths”.

After the 1967 war, Israel and Jordan, the custodian of Al-Haram al-Sharif compound, agreed that while Jews are allowed access to the site, they are not allowed to pray there.

That status quo has withstood many challenges since.

However, Terrestrial Jerusalem, an organisation that tracks developments in Jerusalem that could impact political processes or spark violence, argues that the terminology used in the joint statement is an intentional attempt to open up the Temple Mount for Jewish prayer and ultimately change the status quo.

“It is not too late to insist that this wording be removed and that there be a renewed commitment, unambiguous in its clarity, by both Israel and the United States to the traditional interpretation of the status quo, and specifically regarding Jewish prayer on the Mount,” the report said.

Al-Aqsa, the third-holiest site in Islam, is housed in the 14-hectare Al-Haram al-Sharif compound (Noble Sanctuary), known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

The joint statement, the report said, speaks of access to “Al-Aqsa Mosque,” rather than Al-Haram al-Sharif, and while Israel defines Al-Aqsa as the structure of the mosque, Muslims define it as the entire esplanade of Al-Haram al-Sharif.

“Consequently, according to Israel (and apparently to the United States), anything on the Mount that is not the structure of the mosque is defined as ‘one of Jerusalem’s other holy sites’, and open to prayer by all and open to prayer by all – including Jews.”

The NGO might be right - but for different reasons than they say.

The quoted sentence in the joint statement by the US, UAE and Israel is " As set forth in the Vision for Peace, all Muslims who come in peace may visit and pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque, and Jerusalem’s other holy sites should remain open for peaceful worshippers of all faiths."

There is nothing in that statement that says that Muslims cannot visit and pray throughout the entire Temple Mount complex, so there is nothing that the UAE would object to. Every Friday, especially during Ramadan, the entire Temple Mount is filled with over a hundred thousand Muslim worshippers outside the Al Aqsa mosque building. No one is advocating that this should change. 

The reference to the Trump peace plan is what makes this statement interesting, though.

The Trump Vision for Peace seemingly contradicts itself, first saying that the status quo on the Temple Mount should remain but then saying that non-Muslims should be able to pray at the site:

Given this commendable record for more than half a century, as well as the extreme sensitivity regarding some of Jerusalem’s holy sites, we believe that this practice should remain, and that all of Jerusalem’s holy sites should be subject to the same governance regimes that exist today. In particular the status quo at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif should continue uninterrupted. 

Jerusalem’s holy sites should remain open and available for peaceful worshippers and tourists of all faiths. People of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in a manner that is fully respectful to their religion, taking into account the times of each religion’s prayers and holidays, as well as other religious factors.


Perhaps the Trump plan was not self-contradictory, because by the time it was written Jews had already been arranging ad-hoc prayers with a quorum for at least a year without incident and that could be considered part of the status quo that the Trump vision is referring to.

Terrestrial Jerusalem is unhappy that Jews are routinely praying on the Temple Mount without incident. That undermines its entire argument that allowing Jewish prayer will result in violence and riots, as well as their immoral position that Muslims threatening violence gives them veto power over Jewish rights.  

Of course, to normal people, the idea of Jews praying on their holiest site while not disrupting the prayers of any Muslims should be considered quite fair and uncontroversial, even desirable. Terrestrial Jerusalem and its founder Daniel Seidemann are saying that Jews should not have basic human rights, rights that are part of international conventions. How sick is that?

Terrestrial Jerusalem's fear-mongering and insisting that Jews should never have the right to worship in their most sacred site - and that the antisemitic Waqf should have control of the entire Mount, meaning that Jews couldn't even visit - is proof that even Jewish groups have no problem with holding antisemitic positions under the mask of "peace." 



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