PA calls on world to force Israel to remove Temple Mount metal detectors

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will not change the status quo at the Temple Mount.

July 19, 2017 04:25
2 minute read.
BOYS PASS THROUGH metal detectors just inside the Old City’s Lions’ Gate.

BOYS PASS THROUGH metal detectors just inside the Old City’s Lions’ Gate in the capital yesterday, on their way to enter the Temple Mount.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Tuesday called on the international community to make Israel remove metal detectors from the entrances to the Temple Mount.

“We call on the international community and the Arab and Islamic states to take responsibility for... stopping the occupation’s measures that are in contravention with all laws, agreements and international charters,” he said.

Hamdallah, who was speaking at the PA’s weekly cabinet meeting, said the measures he was referring to include Israel’s recent closure of the Temple Mount and placement of metal detectors at its entrances.

Following a shooting attack on Friday morning that left two police officers dead, Israel closed the Temple Mount. Police reopened the site on Sunday, but placed metal detectors in front of its gates.

Hamdallah characterized the measures as a part of an effort to change the status quo on the Mount.

“[These measures] come in framework of the occupation’s plans to change the historic status quo in Jerusalem and the blessed al-Aksa Mosque,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will not change the status quo at the Temple Mount, but that the metal detectors are necessary to ensure security after weapons were found there this weekend.

There is no consensus definition of the status quo, but it refers to state affairs that has existed on the Temple Mount before 1967. According to a December 2015 report by Terrestrial Jerusalem, an Israeli NGO specializing in Jerusalem affairs, the status quo in terms of security generally mandates that Israel controls security along the perimeter of the Mount, whereas a branch of the Jordanian Wakf Islamic trust “is in principle responsible for the security situation” inside the site.

Hamdallah warned of grave consequences if the metal detectors at the entrance to the site remain in place.

“What is happening is gross aggression and a dangerous Israeli plan... that will increase tensions in Jerusalem specifically and the region generally, explode the situation, and ignite a religious war,” he said.

Since Israel installed the metal detectors, hundreds of Muslims have prayed outside entrances to the Temple Mount in protest.

“I can’t go through those metal detectors because they are meant to humiliate me,” Obada Ghoul, a 21-year-old resident of the Silwan neighborhood, said on Monday.

A police representative reiterated Netanyahu’s sentiment that the metal detectors are purely meant for security.

The representative added that the metal detectors are not a unique security measure as they exist at the entrance to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

A member of the Supreme Muslim Council, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the metal detectors are unacceptable because they represent an effort to impose Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount.

“Israel is an occupying power and is taking advantage of Friday’s operation to assert its sovereignty over the Temple Mount,” he said. “We need to push back against this step to deter [Israel] from taking additional steps to take over our mosque.”

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