Sunday, February 24, 2019

Palestinians Declare Victory After Reopening Closed Temple Mount Site

Palestinians declared victory over the weekend after reopening a site on the Temple Mount that had been closed by Israel in 2003.

Thousands of Palestinians, chanting “Allahu Akbar!” (God is great) entered the area, known as the Golden Gate in English and the Gate of Mercy (Bab al-Rahma) in Arabic, despite repeated attempts by the Jerusalem police to seal it off in the past week.

Some of the protesters entered the area carrying Palestinian flags.

Last week, a group of Muslim worshipers removed an iron gate installed by the police to keep the area closed.
Israel closed the Golden Gate site in 2003 after Palestinian activists and members of the Islamic Movement in Israel – Northern Branch reportedly used it to carry out political activities on the Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary).

Palestinians claim that Israel is planning to turn the area into a site for Jewish prayers.

Shalom Goldstein, former Arab affairs adviser to the mayor of Jerusalem, denied the Palestinian claim. He told The Jerusalem Post that Israel is not interested in the Golden Gate site and has no plans to turn it into a section for Jewish prayers.

Goldstein said the area was closed by a court order in 2003 after activists affiliated with Hamas and members of the Islamic Movement in Israel – Northern Branch opened offices there and engaged in “various activities.”

Jordan’s Wakf Department, which controls and manages the Temple Mount, was not pleased with what was going on at the Golden Gate site back then, he told the Post.

The decision to expand the Wakf administration is seen in the context of a joint Jordanian-Palestinian effort to prepare for the announcement of US President Donald Trump’s plan for peace in the Middle East, which is also known as the “deal of the century.”

In 2013, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah II signed an agreement recognizing Jordan’s role as custodian of the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.

“The Jordanians are preparing for the day the Deal of the Century is announced,” a PA official told the Post. “They don’t want to be alone when the plan is announced because it will also affect the Muslim religious sites. That’s why they invited Palestinian officials to join the Wakf administration. This way it will be easier for them to confront any controversial steps in the ‘deal of the century’ regarding the status of Haram al-Sharif.”

Another PA official said that by joining forces with the Palestinians, Jordan is also hoping to prevent other Islamic parties, including Saudi Arabia and Morocco, from playing a significant role concerning the administration of the Muslim holy shrines in Jerusalem.

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