Wednesday, February 20, 2019

New Clashes At Temple Mount, Jordan Gives Palestinians Larger Role In Administration




19 Palestinians arrested in fresh Temple Mount clashes




Palestinian worshipers clashed with Israeli police on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount on Tuesday, trying to force their way into an area of the flash-point holy compound that has been closed for years. Police said 19 Palestinians were arrested.
The incident follows a similar confrontation on Monday in which Palestinians tried to break the gate that Israel placed on the closed area last week after the Muslim Waqf religious council broke into the area and held prayers there.
Palestinian medics reported that several protesters were injured in the standoff.

The Gate of Mercy, or Golden Gate, was sealed by Israeli authorities in 2003 because the group managing the area had ties to Hamas, and it has been kept closed to stop illegal construction work there by the Waqf, which Israeli officials believe has led to the destruction of antiquities from periods of Jewish presence in the area.

Israeli police responded by summoning the head of the Waqf, Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib al-Tamimi, for questioning, but the summons was later canceled, apparently following pressure from Jordan, according to the Haaretz daily.
The closure drew an angry rebuke from Amman, with a letter from the Jordanian foreign ministry to its Israeli counterpart calling the closure a violation of the status quo and demanding the reopening of the gates and the removal of all Israeli security forces.
In an English-language statement on Tuesday, the office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of attempting to impose a “division” of the mosque compound.
According to Haaretz, the Jordanian government, which controls the Waqf, enlarged its council from 11 to 18 members last week. For the first time, Palestinian Authority officials and religious leaders were installed in the body, which has historically been made up of individuals close to the Jordanian monarchy.


The change is a bid by Amman to begin to share responsibility for the holy site, the location of the biblical Jewish Temples, and now of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock shrine, which in recent years has become an epicenter of tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.








Jordan has moved to give Palestinians in Jerusalem a greater role in administering the Muslim institutions on the Temple Mount, expanding the Waqf religious trust council and appointing to its ranks East Jerusalem political and religious leaders.
According to a report Monday in the Haaretz daily, the Jordanian government, which controls the Waqf, enlarged its council from 11 to 18 members last week. For the first time, Palestinian Authority officials and religious leaders were installed in the body, which has historically been made up of individuals close to the Jordanian monarchy

The change is a bid by Amman to begin to share responsibility for the holy site, the location of the biblical Jewish temples, and now of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock shrine, which in recent years has become an epicenter of tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as between competing regional alliances.


The move has also triggered a new round of violence and tension at the holy site. On Thursday, the expanded Waqf council met for the first time on the Temple Mount, near the Gate of Mercy, or Golden Gate, an area sealed by Israeli authorities in 2003 because the group managing the area had ties to Hamas, and kept closed to stop illegal construction work there by the Waqf that Israeli officials believe has led to the destruction of antiquities from periods of Jewish presence in the area.
After the Thursday meeting, the council members entered the restricted building to pray there.
Israeli police responded by summoning the head of the Waqf, Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib al-Tamimi, for questioning, but the summons were later canceled, apparently following pressure from Jordan, according to Haaretz.
Four days later, on Monday, the Waqf, possibly in response to the earlier summons, mobilized worshipers to the building next to the Gate of Mercy and initiated protest prayers in front of the locked gates to the site. Several Palestinian men then kicked the gates down and went in.
Police officers rushed the structure, sparking clashes and arresting five Palestinian activists.
During the clashes, police sealed off the entire Temple Mount compound for roughly three hours on Monday afternoon.
The closure drew an angry rebuke from Amman, with a letter from the Jordanian foreign ministry to its Israeli counterpart calling the closure a violation of the status quo and demanding the reopening of the gates and the removal of all Israeli security forces.




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