Abbas playing with fire on Temple Mount

By Jordan Turner on November 27, 2014

After relative calm for the last 10 years, terror has returned to the streets of Jerusalem.  Palestinians have driven cars into women, children and newborns waiting for the train, and this week terrorists stormed into a Synagogue in a part of Jerusalem which is uncontestably part of Israel by every international standard, and murdered in cold blood four unarmed civilians in the midst of their early morning prayers.  Israeli`s, who have been lulled into a false sense of security from years of calm now return to extreme vigilance and caution in their daily lives.  As Israel wipes the blood off the ground they are left to ponder how the tension in Jerusalem has suddenly reached a fever pitch.  It has nothing to do with Palestinian`s quality of life, employment, access to education or freedom of movement, it has everything to do with the access to the Temple Mount.

Although Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas claims that Israel has been attempting to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, it has been in in fact Abbas who has been attempting to change the status quo by inciting the Palestinian people and publicly stating that Jews should not have access to the Jewish holy site.  Despite Israeli control of the Temple Mount, on which the Al Asqa Mosque was built atop, the status quo agreement gave control to the Waqf, a Jordanian-Muslim religious body, who would continue to manage the site and Jews would be permitted to visit the Temple Mount but are forbidden to pray there.   Putting aside the absurdity of the idea that Jews are actually forbidden from praying at the site of Judaism`s holiest site, we must analyze what exactly has changed in the “status quo” that would lead Palestinians to murder civilians in cold blood who were not even in the vicinity of the Temple Mount.  What apparently have set off the most recent outrage among the Palestinians were Israeli Knesset members who went to visit the Temple Mount.   This mantra is similar to the now disproven fact that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple mount in 2000 was the reason behind the start for the second intifada.  In both cases, the status quo was not altered.  Jews, politicians and civilians alike, never entered into the Al- Aqsa Mosque at any time nor did they pose any threat to those Muslims who were allowed to continue to pray unabated.   According to the status quo whether it is a Prime Minister, a member of the Israeli Parliament or any other Jew, they are permitted to visit designated areas on the Temple Mount.

It is in fact Abbas who is attempting to change the status quo and to eliminate any presence other than Muslims on the Temple Mount.   In October, the Palestinian Authority televised a short video of Abbas telling Palestinians that Jews should not be allowed on the Temple Mount and that all means necessary should be utilized to stop them.

Mahmoud Abbas on Official Palestinian TV:

“It’s not enough for us to say: ‘There are those carrying out Ribat‘ (religious conflict / war over land claimed to be Islamic). We must all carry out Ribat in the Al-Aqsa [Mosque]. It’s not enough for us to say: ‘The settlers have arrived [at the Mosque]’. They have come, and they must not come to the Sanctuary (i.e., Temple Mount). We have to prevent them, in any way whatsoever, from entering the Sanctuary. This is our Sanctuary, our Al-Aqsa and our Church [of the Holy Sepulchre]. They have no right to enter it. They have no right to defile it. We must prevent them. Let us stand before them with chests bared to protect our holy places.”

 Abbas, who is seen as a moderate in the eyes of many in the West is not asking for freedom of religious practices and access to all religious sites but is instead demanding total monopoly over the Temple Mount and the prohibition of access to all Jews contrary to the status quo.   Abbas is a man who is inciting millions of Muslims to violence by advocating that the mere presence of Jews on the Temple Mount is a desecration of their mosque.

Some have argued, including the Head of Israel’s Intelligence service, that Abbas is not inciting violence and terror against Israeli’s.  Although it is true that Abbas is not making a direct call to Palestinians to murder Israeli’s, he is inciting many Palestinian to “defend” the Al-Asqa mosque by any means necessary.  Mahmoud Al-Habbash, Abbas’s advisor on Religious and Islamic Affairs and the Chairman of the Supreme Council for Shari’ah Law, clarified the intention of Abbas`s televised statement by confirming that his statement was meant to incite.

Abbas Advisor Mahmound Al-Habbash on Palestinian Authority TV:

“First of all, allow me to say that we kiss every forehead, every hand and even every foot that carries out Ribat (religious conflict/ war over land claimed to be Islamic) at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and in Jerusalem… I am not talking about strengthening their resolve; I am talking about participating in their resolve… We are behind them. The leadership is with them. A few days ago, President [Mahmoud Abbas] greeted them, reinforced them and requested more Ribat from them. This statement may have angered the Israelis and the occupation, that the President is inciting the Palestinians from Jerusalem to [perform] Ribat. Yes, we are inciting the people in Jerusalem to [perform] Ribat. Ribat means to protect and to hold on to your ground. We are with them in every movement, in every action and every deed, and we welcome what they are doing at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Abbas understands that a third organized intifada will not be in the interest of the Palestinian Authority but smaller undirected attacks by individuals against Jewish targets will help galvanize the Palestinians and use these acts to convince the world that a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount is the legitimate reason behind the cause of these attacks.   At the same time Abbas has the ability to distance himself from the attacks, by publically condemning the attacks in the Western media and continue the illusion that he is a moderate.

Abbas`s goal is to fuel Palestinians and Islamic anger to help to solidify their claim to the Temple Mount in hopes of removing all Jewish presence there.  And he wishes to accomplish this in a controlled manner under his terms. This strategy has already caused the death of Israeli civilians and will unfortunately be the cause of many more casualties in the future.  Abbas hopes that his strategy will work but the reality is that Abbas is playing with fire. He is playing with the religious emotions of Muslim extremists, who have consistently shown in the past that they over react and are prone to extreme violence when they believe there to be a “threat” to the Islamic way. Abbas`s plan, to invoke the idea of a religious war and attempting to ban Jewish worshippers from the Temple Mount is changing the status quo and in such will drive more and more Palestinians towards Islamic fundamental ideology and into the hands of Hamas.


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