The Palestinian Authority Deliberately Provoked Sunday’s Jerusalem Riots

Aug. 16 2019

On Sunday, Tisha b’Av—the traditional day of mourning for the destruction of the two Jerusalem Temples—coincided with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. While the Israeli government had initially banned Jews from the Temple Mount on that day, it later reversed its decision and allowed a few dozen to visit. Muslim worshippers greeted them by throwing chairs and stones, and police had to quell the riot by force. Just yesterday, an Israeli policeman was stabbed nearby. Maurice Hirsch and Itamar Marcus place the blame for Sunday’s violence squarely on the shoulders of the Palestinian Authority:

In an attempt to disrupt Jews’ right to access the Mount, the Palestinian Authority (PA) took a number of steps, including changing the times of the Muslim prayers and calling for mosques around Jerusalem to remain closed in order to “recruit” as many people as possible to defend the site against the [Jewish] “invasions.”

While the published schedule for the five daily Muslim prayers set the first prayer time for 4:29 am, the second for 5:56 am, and the third for 12:44 pm, the PA-appointed grand mufti decided to delay the second prayer to 7:30. The [purpose for doing so] was to ensure that as many people [as possible] would be present on the Temple Mount when Jews were scheduled to start arriving. . . .

Broadcasting from the Temple Mount, PA television showed how this tactic had succeeded and that, as the Jews were planning to enter the Mount through the Mughrabi Gate, crowds of Palestinians gathered at the site in order to prevent them from passing through. When the time came [for the Jews to arrive], the mufti called for an impromptu prayer session at the entrance to the gate. . . .

In anticipation of the violence, last week the PA’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates prepared the official narrative in advance, blaming the violence on President Donald Trump’s decisions regarding Jerusalem and the international community’s silence regarding the so-called “Judaization” of the al-Aqsa mosque.

Read more at Palestinian Media Watch

More about: Palestinian Authority, Temple Mount, Tisha b'Av


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount