The History of the Temple Mount Status Quo, Which Prohibits Jews from Praying at Their Holiest Site

Aug. 11 2022

In 1967, shortly after the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem, Moshe Dayan ordered the Israeli flag removed from the Dome of the Rock, and worked out the current arrangement for the Temple Mount, whereby the Western Wall and the plaza in front of it is reserved for Jewish prayer, and the mount itself is exclusively designated for Muslim prayer. This has led to the bizarre situation where Israeli security officers closely monitor the lips of Jewish visitors to make sure that they aren’t reciting surreptitious prayers. Alan Baker examines how this came to be:

The current issues beleaguering any hope of achieving tranquility in Jerusalem are based on an age-old Ottoman “status quo” governing custodianship, worship, and visits to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. This status quo was first established in 1757 and formalized by Ottoman imperial decrees (firmans) issued by Sultan Abdul Mejid in 1852 and 1856, freezing claims by religious communities in Jerusalem and Bethlehem to Christian holy places and forbidding any construction or alterations to their existing status.

The prohibition on Jews’ ascending to the Temple Mount area had existed . . . during Mameluke rule (1250–1516) and was maintained under the Ottomans (1516–1917). It received international acknowledgment at the end of the Crimean War at the 1856 Paris Conference, and following the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 in the 1878 Treaty of Berlin (between European powers and the Ottomans), Article 62 of which determined that: “it is well understood that no alterations can be made to the status quo in the Holy Places.”

The same Article 62 extended that arrangement to include all—not only Christian—holy places, freezing claims by religious communities in Jerusalem and Bethlehem to Christian sacred sites and forbidding any construction or alterations to their existing status.

As Baker notes, the current situation flies in the face of all the principles of religious toleration and non-discrimination on which modern international law is built. Yet the numerous diplomats and institutions who see it as their duty to hold Israel to the demands of international law have never complained about its enforcement of the Temple Mount status quo.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: International Law, Ottoman Empire, Temple Mount

Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada