There’s No Reason for Hysteria over Jewish Prayer at the Temple Mount

Last month, Mansour Abbas, an Arab Knesset member and a participant in the outgoing coalition, warned that a decision by the new government to loosen restrictions on Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount could “lead to war.” Such fears about the possible policies of the new coalition—which has not yet been sworn in and has not endorsed any plans for the Mount—have been echoed by the American and Israeli media. Nadav Shragai cautions against what he sees simply as “hysteria.”

Jews have been praying on the Mount for five years now; quiet prayers, without provoking anyone, in the southeastern corner of the Mount, with police authorization, and under police supervision. . . . This [new policy] took time and was implemented gradually, after endless shakeups and material changes on the holy Mount initiated and executed by the Muslims.

Should we briefly recall what has occurred on the Mount since 1967? . . . The Muslims turned the Dome of the Rock—which of course originally was not a mosque—into a mosque and paved large sections of the Temple Mount compound, which is in practice used as a mass prayer hall for tens of thousands. They established three additional mosques on the Mount: al-Marwani mosque located in Solomon’s stables, in the underground vaulted space along the southeastern side of the Temple Mount; the ancient Aqsa mosque underneath the overground Aqsa mosque; and the Gate of Mercy compound.

And just as it would be inconceivable to remove Muslims praying from al-Marwani mosque and the ancient Aqsa mosque, . . . it should also be unthinkable to put an end to the quiet Jewish services on the Mount. If under the tenure of Omer Bar-Lev as minister of public security the police understood this well and Jordan, [which plays an official role in managing the Islamic holy places in Jerusalem], has swallowed this bitter pill, then during the renewed tenure of Benjamin Netanyahu and perhaps that of Itamar Ben-Gvir as the minister of public security—[an end to Jewish prayer] is certainly something that should not be entertained. Now, when the government is just about to change, is not the time to make any declarations, but simply to carry on.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israeli politics, Mansour Abbas, Temple Mount


How Israel Can Break the Cycle of Wars in Gaza

Last month saw yet another round of fighting between the Jewish state and Gaza-based terrorist groups. This time, it was Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) that began the conflict; in other cases, it was Hamas, which rules the territory. Such outbreaks have been numerous in the years since 2009, and although the details have varied somewhat, Israel has not yet found a way to stop them, or to save the residents of the southwestern part of the country from the constant threat of rocket fire. Yossi Kuperwasser argues that a combination of military, economic, and diplomatic pressure might present an alternative solution:

In Gaza, Jerusalem plays a key role in developing the rules that determine what the parties can and cannot do. Such rules are designed to give the Israelis the ability to deter attacks, defend territory, maintain intelligence dominance, and win decisively. These rules assure Hamas that its rule over Gaza will not be challenged and that, in between the rounds of escalation, it will be allowed to continue its military buildup, as the Israelis seldom strike first, and the government’s responses to Hamas’s limited attacks are always measured and proportionate.

The flaws in such an approach are clear: it grants Hamas the ability to develop its offensive capabilities, increase its political power, and condemn Israelis—especially those living within range of the Gaza Strip—to persistent threats from Hamas terrorists.

A far more effective [goal] would be to rid Israel of Hamas’s threat by disarming it, prohibiting its rearmament, and demonstrating conclusively that threatening Israel is indisputably against its interests. Achieving this goal will not be easy, but with proper preparation, it may be feasible at the appropriate time.

Revisiting the rule according to which Jerusalem remains tacitly committed to not ending Hamas rule in Gaza is key for changing the dynamics of this conflict. So long as Hamas knows that the Israelis will not attempt to uproot it from Gaza, it can continue arming itself and conducting periodic attacks knowing the price it will pay may be heavy—especially if Jerusalem changes the other rules mentioned—but not existential.

Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli Security, Palestinian Islamic Jihad