Jerusalem's Old City and the Temple Mount.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Last week the Middle East witnessed the novelty of a simple, elegant solution being suggested to resolve a complex and ever-messier problem: strife on the Temple Mount. US Secretary of State John Kerry brokered a deal with Jordanian King Abdullah to position security cameras at the holy site so the relevant authorities can be assured that no one is disturbing the peace of the Mount.
Israel welcomed the proposal, for this new transparency would clearly show who is responsible for acts that threaten to desecrate that supreme religious value known as the status quo.
At last Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – the chief promoter of the falsehood that Israelis somehow threaten the Aksa Mosque – would be able to see the truth with his own eyes. He would soon be able to call off the teenage stabbers he inflames by his irresponsible rhetoric.
However, in another apparent example of the Palestinians never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity, the Palestinian Authority rejected putting cameras on the Mount. So why do Palestinians not want cameras on the Temple Mount to protect al-Aksa from all those Israelis with “filthy feet” from desecrating the place? PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki was quick to denounce the cameras as a sinister “new trap” that Israel would set so it could “arrest Palestinians under the pretext of incitement.” The current “pretext” of incitement includes well documented instances of Muslim men, known as Murabitoun, and women, called Murabitat, who are hired by the PA to harass Jewish visitors to the Mount.
Real-time video surveillance would expose the true desecration of the holy site by Muslims, which is something the PA is trying to avoid. The cameras would also put the lie to ongoing accusations by the PA and the Islamic Movement in Israel that Jews are “violently invading” al-Aksa and praying on the Mount.
Cameras on the Mount would also reveal whether Palestinian activists are continuing to stockpile rocks, firebombs and the occasional pipe bomb into al-Aksa, whose sanctity they themselves have been by using the mosque as a launching pad for attacks on Jews at the Western Wall below for the past two years.
It should also not be ignored that the Palestinian rejection of cameras is also a rejection of Jordan and its custodianship of the Temple Mount. The Jordanian newspaper Al-Ghad quoted Jordanian politicians blasting the PA’s rejection as “inappropriate, clumsy, tasteless and unfair.”
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The PA is evidently trying to assert its authority by denying Jordan an enhanced role at the holy site, with a view to undermining entirely its position of custodianship over Jerusalem’s Islamic sites. A showdown with Jordan is thus not out of the question between King Abdullah’s peaceful intent to provide transparent security on the Temple Mount and Abbas’s cynical move to continue to obscure his connection with the desecration of all that is holy that his ongoing incitement encourages.
There is perhaps no clearer illustration of how warped is the Palestinian view on the issue of the Temple Mount itself and the historic Jewish connection with it than the words of Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti Muhammad Hussein.
This Islamic scholar recently declared to his interviewer on Channel 2 that the biblical Adam built the Dome of the Rock shrine, which has been an Islamic place of worship since “3,000 years ago and 30,000 years ago.”
He denies that there was ever a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount, which he says has been an Islamic holy site “since the creation of the world.”
It seems Muslim clarity regarding the site has been lost over the years. In 1924, Jerusalem’s Supreme Muslim Council published a guide to al-Haram al-Sharif (the noble sanctuary), the Arabic name for the Temple Mount. The English version, available online, states, “Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.” It also describes the construction of the Dome of the Rock, completed in 691 CE, and of the Aksa Mosque two years later.
US pressure on the PA to stop incitement and end the violence should include bolstering Jordan’s role in restoring the peace, which will best be served by installing the surveillance cameras. They are an objective way to refute Palestinian incitement alleging Israel’s violation of Muslim sensibilities on the Temple Mount. Video cameras around the Mount providing 24/7 live coverage of the place should be publicly accessible to all the world on an Internet site – just like the Western Wall’s Kotel Cam. The times clearly demand an Aksa Cam.
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