PLAYING WITH FIRE ON THE TEMPLE MOUNT OF JERUSALEM

 Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is dealing with latest tensions at the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem with an odd combination of insolence, recklessness, irresponsibility  and a great deal of shortsightedness.

Israeli soldiers patrol the Temple Mount in Jerusalem

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In Jerusalem Netanyahu is playing with fire 
By Khalid Amayreh
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Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is dealing with latest tensions at the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem with an odd combination of insolence, recklessness, irresponsibility  and a great deal of shortsightedness.
 
 Indeed, a fleet examination of his behavior following the regrettable shooting at the site last week, caricatures a leader who doesn’t look before he leaps.  Otherwise, he wouldn’t have succumbed, rather unhesitatingly, to the whimsical demands by millenarian Talmudic circles to restrict Muslim access to the holy place. In fact, doing so is a grave provocation to Muslims sensibilities which could cause the gates of hell to open loose.
 
Netanyahu seems to forget the fact that when Israel treads on the most sensitive nerve in Islam, at least in our region, the masses won’t heed calls for calm and self-restraint neither from the PA nor from this or that Arab king or head of state.  Al-Aqsa, after all, is the mother of all issues.  It transcends politics and geography. Don’t you see that this issue is galvanizing the Palestinian street as no other issue would? Even Hamas and Fatah are adopting a concordant discourse in the face of this flagrant Israeli provocation. Certainly, I wouldn’t want to see fanatics and provocateurs take over the stage in order to urge seven million Palestinians to morph into seven million time-bombs or suicide bombers. None the less, the task to defuse the current crisis is not the responsibility of Palestinians alone. Israel, too, if only by being the main player who possesses many vital cards, should make the first step, but without procrastination, deception pr foul-playing.
 
That is why I hope and pray that Netanyahu and his colleagues in the government will immediately return to the status quo ante lest things get out of hand.  I am not making threats, but I know my people very well. For them, there is no other issue under the sun that could provoke them more. I am sure the Shin Beth knows quite well what I am talking about.
 
Israel can always seek and find alternative ways to prevent the smuggling of weapons into the Third Holiest place in Islam. Indeed, smuggling of fire arms into the Aqsa esplanade has been extremely rare. It occurred only once or twice since 1967, and the smuggler was neither Arab nor Muslim.  In fact, there is a fierce opposition among Palestinians to the very idea of smuggling fire-arms into the Haram al-Sharif  since a manifestly stupid feat of this sort would give Israel a long-sought pretext to tamper with the delicate status quo at the site. Hence, the Palestinians would be the main if not sole losers if such a folly were to be allowed to become a phenomenon, God forbid.
 
Some people might correctly argue that Israel will continue to seek pretexts and excuses to change the rules at the al-Aqsa Mosque.
 
Well, I hope insolence and impetuousness will give way to wisdom.  Fanatics from all sides must be reined in because if they are allowed to be in the driver’s seat, they could drive the entire region into the abyss.
 
Tomorrow is Friday when tens of thousands of Muslims will converge at the Aqsa Mosque for the weekly Juma’a congregational prayer. I hope the Israeli authorities will instruct their security personnel to refrain from provoking the worshipers or denying them free access to their holy place. Let them pray peacefully.

2 Comments

  1. July 20, 2017 at 17:07

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