Clashes Atop Temple Mount After Jordan Makes Changes To Governing Body To Include Palestinians
Tensions over the flashpoint Temple Mount—known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif—are on the rise, as Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces for the second time this week. The latest point of contention is Israel’s continued closure of a space known as the Golden Gate, which was shuttered in 2003 in accordance with a court ruling due to concerns that the Waqf—the Islamic trust that oversees the holy place—is undertaking illegal excavations. Many argue the unauthorized digging, and resulting destruction of historical artifacts, is geared towards erasing the 2,000-year-long Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. For their part, the Palestinians believe the Israeli government is planning to turn the area into a Jewish prayer section, which dovetails with the broader “al-Aqsa is in danger” campaign that in the past repeatedly ignited mass protests and violence. All of this comes on the heels of a move by Jordan—the custodian of Islamic religious sites in Jerusalem—to grant some control over the Temple Mount to the Palestinian Authority. According to Israeli media, Amman recently enlarged the Waqf’s administrative council from 11 to 18 members and for the first time included Palestinian officials in its ranks. The decision is being construed as a bid to consolidate the PA’s claim to the eastern part of Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.