TEL AVIV – While France is facing Israeli criticism for suggesting the deployment of international observers to the Temple Mount, WND has learned the Kingdom of Jordan is floating its own plan to consolidate power at the holy site, proposing non-uniformed Jordanian soldiers patrol the sensitive complex.
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The Jordanian proposal was quietly made in recent days to Israeli and U.S. officials, according to diplomatic sources here. The Israeli government immediately rejected the possibility of Jordanian soldiers, uniformed or not, stationed inside the Jewish state.
The diplomatic sources said that last month a Jordanian general and other Jordanian military officers held a meeting with the Waqf, the Islamic custodians of the Temple Mount, to discuss the possibility of Jordanian deployment on the site.
For about seven hours following last month’s meeting, photos of the Waqf and the Jordanian military envoys were posted on the Waqf’s Facebook page but were subsequently deleted, the sources said.
Jordan currently exercises substantial influence over the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, the Islamic trust that manages the Al-Aqsa Mosque and other Islamic sites on the Temple Mount and in Jerusalem. The Waqf answers more to Jordan than it does to the Palestinian Authority, sources say.
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Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected France's draft for a U.N. Security Council statement calling for international observers to be stationed on the Temple Mount.
"There is no mention of Palestinian incitement and Palestinian terrorism," Netanyahu said of the French draft proposal. "We've already seen what happens in holy sites in the Middle East when extreme Muslims destroy each other's mosques, Christian sites, heritage sites, Jewish sites," he said.
"Israel is not the problem on the Temple Mount; it's the solution," Netanyahu continued, speaking at a weekly cabinet meeting. "We maintain the status quo. We are the only ones doing so, and we will keep doing it in a responsible and serious manner. There hasn't been any change in the status quo – except for an attempt by some people, organized by Islamic groups in Israel as well as extremist elements – to place explosives in mosques and attack Jews from within the mosques," he said.
According to reports, Israel’s Foreign Ministry called in France’s ambassador to Israel to express what the Ministry termed the Jewish state’s “determined opposition” to the French U.N. proposal for international monitors on the mount.
“Israel is opposed to all moves that affect its vital interests that are not coordinated with it and are drawn up without its involvement,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters.
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If passed, the draft French proposal would not be binding. It would only constitute a statement of intent on behalf of the U.N. Security Council. It is not clear if France has the 15 votes necessary to pass such a resolution. The U.S. is reportedly against the French proposal.
Temple Mount and 'wave of terror'
The Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque have been central themes in the current so-called Palestinian wave of terror, specifically the repeated Palestinian claim of a Jewish threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Many of the Palestinians who have carried out anti-Israel attacks first posted messages on social media regarding rumors of a pending Jewish takeover of the mosque and the associated compound, the Temple Mount.
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The claims of a Jewish “threat” to the mosque were kicked into high gear by media outlets controlled by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party.
Palestinian leaders have repeatedly alleged that Israel was drawing up plans to limit Muslim access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque or even destroy the site.
This even though Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has given numerous assurances there are no such plans and that the only times access was temporarily limited – Muslim men below the age of 40 were restricted on some days – was in direct response to Palestinian attacks against Jewish worshipers and police forces on the site.
“We don’t attack anyone and we want [Israelis] to stop attacking us; we want them not to enter Al-Aqsa,” Abbas told reporters last week.
“We support those who are protecting the Al-Aqsa Mosque, those who suffer a great deal to protect Al-Aqsa,” Abbas said. “We tell the Israeli government: Stay away from our holy places, the Islamic and Christian holy places. We want peace, and our hands will remain extended for peace, regardless of what is happening to us.”
Abbas referenced “those who are protecting the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” In actuality, what has been happening for weeks, as WND has reported, is that the radical Islamic Movement has been mobilizing Arab youth to smuggle fire bombs, pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails and stones onto the Temple Mount to attack Jews ascending the site.
The youth themselves have used the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a staging base to attack Jews, drawing Israeli police forces close to the sensitive mosque compound and thus fueling the cycle of rumors of Israeli incursions into the mosque.
The Israeli police have been careful not to enter the mosque itself, even though the Palestinian instigators base their militant operations inside the site.
Look whose access is really limited
The Palestinian claim of Israeli plans to restrict Muslims from the Temple Mount is contrasted with the facts on the ground. Jews and Christians are actually barred from the mount during most hours of the day and are never allowed to pray at the site or carry holy objects.
Those rules, enforced by the Israeli police, are imposed by the real custodians of the Temple Mount, the Waqf, which is controlled jointly by the Palestinians and the Jordanians.
The Temple Mount was opened to the public until September 2000, when the Palestinians started their intifada, or “uprising,” by throwing stones at Jewish worshipers after then-candidate for prime minister Ariel Sharon visited the area.
After the onset of violence, the new Sharon government closed the Temple Mount to non-Muslims, using checkpoints to control all pedestrian traffic for fear of further clashes with the Palestinians.
The Temple Mount was reopened to non-Muslims in August 2003.
It since has been open to non-Muslims only during certain hours, and not on any Christian, Jewish or Muslim holidays or other days considered “sensitive” by the Waqf.
During “open” days, Jews and Christians are allowed to ascend the mount, usually through organized tours and only if they conform first 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 Palestinian claim that Israel is trying to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque is farcical, especially because it is propagated by the same PA that has been caught on several occasions trying to destroy Jewish Temple-era antiquities on the mount.
Last week, hundreds of Palestinian youth set fire to the Joseph’s Tomb complex, causing severe damage to the revered burial place, considered Judaism’s third holiest site.
In 1997, the Waqf conducted a large dig on the Temple Mount during construction of a massive mosque at an area referred to as Solomon’s Stables. The Wafq at the time disposed truckloads of dirt containing Jewish artifacts from the First and Second Temple periods.
After media reported the disposals, Israeli authorities froze the construction permit given to the Wafq, and the dirt was transferred to Israeli archaeologists for analysis. The Israeli authorities found scores of Jewish Temple relics in the nearly disposed dirt, including coins with Hebrew writing referencing the Temple, part of a Hasmonean lamp, several other Second Temple lamps, Temple-period pottery with Jewish markings, a marble pillar shaft and other Temple-period artifacts.
The Waqf was widely accused of attempting to hide evidence of the existence of the Jewish Temples.
And in 2007, WND reported from the site when Islamic authorities using heavy machinery to dig on the Temple Mount were caught red-handed again destroying Temple-era antiquities and what some believed could have been a section of an outer wall of the Second Jewish Temple.
Temples ‘never existed’
Most Palestinian leaders routinely deny well-documented Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.
Speaking to WND in a 2007 interview, Waqf official and chief Palestinian Justice Taysir Tamimi claimed the Jewish Temples “never existed.”
“About these so-called two Temples, they never existed, certainly not at the Haram Al- Sharif (Temple Mount),” said Tamimi, who is considered the second most important Palestinian cleric after Muhammad Hussein, the grand mufti of Jerusalem.
“Israel started since 1967 making archaeological digs to show Jewish signs to prove the relationship between Judaism and the city, and they found nothing. There is no Jewish connection to Israel before the Jews invaded in the 1880s,” said Tamimi.
The Palestinian cleric denied the validity of dozens of digs verified by experts worldwide revealing Jewish artifacts from the First and Second Temples, tunnels that snake under the Temple Mount and more than 100 ritual immersion pools believed to have been used by Jewish priests to cleanse themselves before services. The cleansing process is detailed in the Torah.
Asked about the Western Wall, Tamimi said the structure was a tying post for Muhammad’s horse and that it is part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, even though the wall predates the mosque by more than 1,000 years.
“The Western Wall is the western wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It’s where Prophet Muhammad tied his animal, which took him from Mecca to Jerusalem to receive the revelations of Allah.”
The Palestinian media also regularly state the Jewish Temples never existed.
Judaism’s holiest site
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism. Muslims now claim it is their third holiest site, although their stake changed several times throughout history.
The First Temple was built by King Solomon in the 10th century B.C. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The Second Temple was rebuilt in 515 B.C. after Jerusalem was freed from Babylonian captivity. That temple was destroyed by the Roman Empire in A.D. 70. Each temple stood for about four centuries.
According to the Talmud, the world was created from the foundation stone of the Temple Mount. It’s believed to be the biblical Mount Moriah, where Abraham fulfilled God’s test of his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac.
The Temple Mount has remained a focal point for Jewish services for thousands of years. Prayers for a return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple have been uttered by Jews since the Second Temple was destroyed, according to Jewish tradition.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque was constructed in about A.D. 709 to serve as a shrine near another shrine, the Dome of the Rock, which was built by an Islamic caliph. Al-Aqsa was meant to mark what Muslims came to believe was the place at which Muhammad, the founder of Islam, ascended to heaven to receive revelations from Allah.
Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Quran. It is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible 656 times.
Islamic tradition states Muhammad took a journey in a single night on a horse from “a sacred mosque” – believed to be in Mecca in southern Saudi Arabia – to “the farthest mosque.” From a rock there, according to the tradition, he ascended to heaven. The farthest mosque became associated with Jerusalem about 120 years ago.
According to research by Israeli author Shmuel Berkovits, Islam historically disregarded Jerusalem as being holy. Berkovits points out in his book “How Dreadful Is This Place!” that Muhammad was said to loathe Jerusalem and what it stood for. He wrote that Muhammad made a point of eliminating pagan sites of worship and sanctifying only one place – the Kaaba in Mecca – to signify there is only one deity.
As late as the 14th century, Islamic scholar Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyya, whose writings influenced the Wahhabi movement in Arabia, ruled that sacred Islamic sites are to be found only in the Arabian Peninsula and that “in Jerusalem, there is not a place one calls sacred, and the same holds true for the tombs of Hebron.”
A guide to the Temple Mount by the Supreme Muslim Council in Jerusalem published in 1925 listed it as Jewish and as the site of Solomon’s Temple. The Temple Institute acquired a copy of the official 1925 “Guide Book to Al-Haram Al-Sharif,” which states on page 4: “Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to universal belief, on which David ‘built there an altar unto the Lord.’”