Sunday, September 25th | 1 Tishri 5783

July 28, 2017 11:15 am

Repeating Patterns: The Temple Mount Riots

avatar by Manfred Gerstenfeld


Palestinian rioters in eastern Jerusalem, near the Old City, protest Israel’s new Temple Mount metal detectors following Friday prayers on July 21, 2017. Photo: Yonatan Sindel / Flash90.

Despite the removal of metal detectors at the Temple Mount, Palestinian riots in Jerusalem continue. Perhaps the situation will gradually calm down.

More important, however, is evaluating the reactions of several key actors in the saga — and recognizing recurrent patterns concerning these events.

In the past, the Palestinian Authority could control riots. The typical case in point was the Second Intifada, which began in 2000. This was presented as a spontaneous outburst of Palestinian anger after the visit of Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount. In 2001, however, the Palestinian minister of communications, Imad Faloudji, admitted that the intifada had been planned long before by the Palestinian Authority. All that was needed was an adequate opportunity to start it.

Since then, the stature of the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas in the West has only increased. In 2016, a large number of members of the European Parliament gave him a standing ovation after a speech there. This, despite the fact that Abbas made an extreme, antisemitic accusation against Israel about a rabbi who had called upon the Jewish state to poison the water of the Palestinians. Two days later, Abbas had to admit that his libel was false. The Palestinians had invented a fictitious rabbi.

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Among the Palestinians themselves, Abbas is seen as very weak. His Fatah movement supports the riots — partly because it fears losing influence if it does not.  On the other hand, if the riots continue, then Abbas may lose control of them.

Another returning pattern is the Palestinian abuse of holy or protected places. During Israeli military campaigns against Hamas, the terrorist group often hides weapons in mosques, universities and schools — including those affiliated with UNRWA. Furthermore, in 2009, part of Hamas’ leadership hid in a Gaza hospital because they knew that Israel would not target it. Hamas also uses civilians as human shields.

Another returning pattern is the behavior of many foreign governments, which excuse and condone Palestinian terror, incitement and violence — and the behavior of the foreign media, which often distorts the facts of actual events. For example, Honest Reporting Canada — a group that monitors Canadian news outlets — has established a detailed list of many such distortions about the Israeli situation in the Canadian media in the past two weeks alone.

All of the above confirms the opinion of many Israelis that a future peace agreement is useless. The Palestinian leadership may indeed one day sign such an agreement, which might lead to quiet for some time. But then there will be another occasion used by Palestinians for riots, violence and murder.

The past few days have created a perfect model for such a pattern: Commit a crime against Israel related to Al-Aqsa. If Israel reacts with enhanced security measures, announce that Al-Aqsa is in danger. This can easily incite rioting. Israel, however, cannot undo its concessions made for “peace.” These concessions are likely to include the removal of isolated West Bank settlements and an exchange of land in return for the larger settlements.

That’s why the events of the last few days have strengthened Israeli feelings that such a peace agreement is not a serious or credible option.

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