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October 24, 2015 9:30 am

Mideast Experts Decry Palestinian Incitement at House Foreign Affairs Committee

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

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David Makovsky, a new member of the U.S. team for Israeli-Palestinian conflict talks. Photo: Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

David Makovsky. Photo: Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The root of tensions over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem can be traced back to the incitement of the Palestinian government in Ramallah, Mideast expert Jonathan Schanzer told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, on Thursday.

“The root of the tensions on the Temple Mount can be clearly traced back to the propaganda of the PLO’s news agency WAFA,” he said, referring to the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the official Palestine News Agency.

“Congress should consider punitive measures until the PLO halts its incitement,” he said.

Clashes erupted at the Temple Mount amid rumors that Israel sought to change regulations administering the site, such as allowing Jews the right to pray there.

David Makovsky, a Mideast scholar with the Washington Institute who also spoke to the House committee on Friday, also criticized allegations Israel was trying to change status quo arrangements:

In addressing the situation today, it should be clear that there is no justification for any incitement to violence. When you say that Israel wants to undermine the status of the al-Aqsa Mosque or change the status quo on the Temple Mount/al-Haram al-Sharif, it is equivalent to yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, given the role that such allegations have played in provoking past violence.

This incitement includes public remarks by President Abbas, during which he said that “every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure. Every martyr will reach paradise, and every injured person will be rewarded by God.” He has also said that Jews “have no right to desecrate the mosque with their dirty feet.” Abbas has not renounced these statements, and in recent days he has called for “popular nonviolent struggle.”

Makovsky called on the U.S. to jump-start the process of getting Israel and Jordan to make a document laying out all of the arrangements at the Temple Mount, to be approved by the Palestinian Authority.

“Hopefully, making such understandings explicit would add a vital measure of predictability to an unpredictable situation,” he said.


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  • Sherlock Holmes

    The Israeli Supreme Court under Chief Justice Aaron Barak ruled that Jews have the legal right to ascend the Temple Mount and to pray privately there. This follows on from the Status Quo agreement that gives each religious group access to its holy sites. The recent UNICEF vote declaring the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem to be ‘Muslim holy sites’ shows total disregard for the staus quo concept. The Cave of the Patriarchs is the burial place of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebekah and Leah. Only Abraham has any connection to Islam. The Tomb of Rachel, Jacob’s wife, has no link to Islam. The Temple Mount is the site of Solomon’s Temple and the Second Temple.The platform was expanded by King Herod to accommodate the large crowds of pilgrims on Passover and other holy days. The Temple Mount has been a Jewish focal point for about 3,000 years, but the Islamists deny the Jewish right to pray there. Just to note, the platform for the Tempe Mount is 144,000 square metres or 37 acres or about the size of 20 football fields.

  • Jack

    As expeditious as Makovsky’s analysis may seem, ultimately the interference from outside Israel/Palestine/Jordan is the far more critical situation to ensuring the security of the Temple Mount/al Aqsa Mosque area than anything those in the immediate area could do to cause serious upheaval.
    Despite Putin’s folly instability will increase in Iraq/Syria to the point of un-tenability.
    Despite the need to have influence, this move alone guarantees that open warfare with Europe is to be fulfilled.
    As in Afghanistan the need to be chauvinistic in tenor will lead to the Russian bear re-acting when poked.
    a sad refrain, to be sure, but with far greater long term negative consequences possible without the utmost discretion.
    Not Vlad’s strong point.
    In fact, by trying to get the U.S. to ‘jump start the process’ an escalation in tensions is inevitable, at a time when tensions are already running unreasonably high.
    Abbas, however, is another matter, with the serious charge of incitement having justification in every sense.
    Perhaps an investigation at the Hague would be in order.
    It is a crime against humanity to incite hatred toward any identifiable group.
    Not only has abu Mazen done this, but he has openly used the organization and organs of the Palestinian Authority to support, hide, direct, and organize extra-P.A. mandated people to harm and kill innocent people both inside and outside Palestine for their own ends.
    The truth is their to see from his positions alone, never mind his public statements of support for the violent acts after the fact.
    (This is where if I could spit for effect I would!)
    The fact the U.N. is helpless in these matters due to the interference of the Arab League is unfortunate, but truth always wins out despite the suffering.