Mideast Experts Decry Palestinian Incitement at House Foreign Affairs Committee
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.