Israeli Cabinet Meets in Tunnels beneath Western Wall – Commemoration and Exclamation
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, still smarting from US President Trump’s dismissal of all indications of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, brought his weekly cabinet meeting to the tunnels that run beneath the Western Wall as part of commemorations of the fiftieth anniversary of the Israeli reunification of Jerusalem and an exclamation point punctuating Israeli control of the old city in the aftermath of the Trump visit. Although a major gesture to Israelis and in particular the political right, many see the cabinet session as a needless provocation. The Arab world has long accused Israel of digging beneath the Temple Mount in order to destabilize the Al Aqsa Mosque and as part of the “Juda-ization” of east Jerusalem. Even though no digging has taken place in those areas, the issue remains a flash point between Israelis and Palestinians. It also comes on the heels of what many consider a positive development: the Moslem Trust’s willingness to accept more Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount – albeit only the non-praying variety. Palestinian officials angrily condemned the event noting that in addition to being a provocation, it was insensitive to do so on the first day of the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan.