TEL AVIV – The reports of stepped-up activism to ensure non-Muslim prayer on the Temple Mount comes as the Obama administrations continues to quietly push a plan in which the Palestinian Authority and Jordan will receive sovereignty over the holy site.
On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported on what it described as a “small but growing movement by Jewish activists” demanding the right to pray on the mount.
Currently, all non-Muslims are barred from praying at the site. While Muslims can access the Temple Mount 24-hours a day, Jews and Christians may only ascend during certain hours, and not on any Christian, Jewish or Muslim holidays or other days considered “sensitive” by the Waqf, the Islamic custodians of the mount.
Jews and Christians who ascend the mount during the limited hours usually do so through organized tours and only if they conform to a strict set of guidelines, which include demands that they not pray or bring any “holy objects” to the site.
Visitors are banned from entering any of the mosques without direct Waqf permission. Rules are enforced by Waqf agents, who watch tours closely and alert nearby Israeli police to any breaking of their guidelines.
The Post reported proposals for non-Muslims to pray on the mount are now being debated in Israel’s Knesset and accepted by numerous politicians within Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government.
As WND was first to report, the Obama administration is pressing Israel to completely relinquish the Temple Mount, while the Jewish state would retain the land below the Western Wall, according to a senior PA negotiator speaking to WND.
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism.
The proposed plan is part of the basis for U.S.-brokered talks pushed by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Israel has not agreed to the U.S. plan over the Temple Mount, with details still open for discussion, stated the PA negotiator.
The negotiator, who is one of the main Palestinian figures leading the Arab side of the talks, further divulged Kerry’s proposed outline for a Palestinian state as presented orally to Israel and the PA.
He said Jordan has been invited to play a key role in the discussions surrounding both the Temple Mount and Jerusalem while it will be the PA, with some Jordanian assistance, that would ultimately receive control of some of those areas.
WND was first to report in 2007 that Jordan had been quietly purchasing real estate surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem hoping to gain more control over the area accessing the holy site, according to Palestinian and Israeli officials.
Meanwhile, regarding the rest of Jerusalem, Kerry’s plan is to rehash what is known as the Clinton parameters. The formula, pushed by President Bill Clinton during the Camp David talks in 2000, called for Jewish areas of Jerusalem to remain Israeli while the Palestinians would get sovereignty over neighborhoods that are largely Arab. Most Arab sections are located in eastern Jerusalem.
WND reported the Palestinians are building illegally in Jewish-owned areas of Jerusalem, resulting in Arab majorities in some neighborhoods.
For the strategic Jordan Valley, Obama’s proposal calls for international forces to maintain security control along with unarmed Palestinian police forces, the PA negotiator said. Israel will retain security posts in some strategic areas of the Jordan Valley, according to the leaked plan.
When it comes to the West Bank, which borders Jerusalem and is within rocket range of Israel’s main population centers, Israel is expected to evacuate about 90 percent of its Jewish communities currently located in the territory, as outlined in Kerry’s plan.
Israel would retain strategic security posts along with the West Bank’s main blocs, Maale Adumin, Ariel and Gush Etzion. In return, Obama is calling for an exchange of territory with the Palestinians in other locations inside Israel, with discussion being open for the Palestinians to possibly receive land in the Israeli Negev in the country’s south.
The PA negotiator further said Israel rejected a Palestinian request that Netanyahu agree not to place the final peace plan up for referendum in the Knesset.