The King of Jordan Should Help to Restore Calm on the Temple Mount

After the Israeli cabinet minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount last month, the Jordanian government condemned this peaceful tour of the area as the “storming of al-Aqsa mosque and violation of its sanctity,” while the U.S., the UK, and other Western countries cautioned Jerusalem against doing anything that might “inflame tensions” (as one diplomat put it). No such admonitions, however, have been issued to King Abdullah of Jordan, observes David M. Weinberg:

Standing beside every world leader he possibly can, and when meeting Israeli prime ministers too, the Jordanian king Abdullah defiantly declares his self-anointed “custodianship” over the Temple Mount and “all holy sites” in Jerusalem. Let’s leave aside for the moment the fact that no Jordanian “custodianship” or “jurisdiction” in Jerusalem ever has been agreed to by Israel nor does it exist in any international accord. All Israel acknowledges is that the Hashemite kingdom has a “special role” to play on the Temple Mount.

One would think that “special role” would mean that Jordan has special responsibility to help maintain the site as a holy place of prayer, brotherhood, and tolerance. At a minimum, one would expect the Jordanians to do everything possible to help keep the peace by blocking attempts to turn the site into ground zero for violent Arab insurrection, wild Palestinian rioting, and the most anti-Semitic and genocidal anti-Israel incitement.

Alas, the Jordanians have done no such thing. . . . Using al-Aqsa as a base for physical assaults on Israel (like storing weapons) and as a platform for the ugliest education about the evils of Jews and Israel is not an occasional thing. It has become the Jordanian-sponsored standard of behavior on the Temple Mount. This has been the contribution of Jordan’s much-ballyhooed “special role” condition.

It is not like King Abdullah can’t control things if he wanted to. I can assure you that not a single word of criticism against Abdullah is heard on the Temple Mount from any Palestinian preacher, just as not a single mild word of criticism against Abdullah is allowed out of the mouths of any sermonizer in mosques across Jordan. . . . But apparently at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem no such censorship exists. At the most sensitive, explosive, holy site in the world, everything goes, especially anti-Semitic and genocidal anti-Israel incitement—under the allegedly benevolent and hypothetically moderate watch of King Abdullah of Jordan.

Read more at David M. Weinberg

More about: Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jordan, King Abdullah, Temple Mount


Why Hizballah Is Threatening Cyprus

In a speech last Wednesday, Hizballah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah not only declared that “nowhere will be safe” in Israel in the event of an all-out war, but also that his forces would attack the island nation of Cyprus. Hanin Ghaddar, Farzin Nadimi, and David Schenker observe that this is no idle threat, but one the Iran-backed terrorist group has “a range of options” for carrying out. They explain: 

Nasrallah’s threat to Cyprus was not random—the republic has long maintained close ties with Israel, much to Hizballah’s irritation. In recent years, the island has hosted multiple joint air-defense drills and annual special-forces exercises with Israel focused on potential threats from Hizballah and Iran.

Nasrallah’s threat should also be viewed in the context of wartime statements by Iran and its proxies about disrupting vital shipping lanes to Israel through the East Mediterranean.

This scenario should be particularly troubling to Washington given the large allied military presence in Cyprus, which includes a few thousand British troops, more than a hundred U.S. Air Force personnel, and a detachment of U-2 surveillance aircraft from the 1st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron.

Yoni Ben Menachem suggests there is an additional aspect to Nasrallah’s designs on Cyprus, involving a plan

to neutralize the Israeli air force through two primary actions: a surprise attack with precision missiles and UAVs on Israeli air-force bases and against radar and air-defense facilities, including paralyzing Ben-Gurion Airport.

Nasrallah’s goal is to ground Israeli aircraft to prevent them from conducting missions in Lebanon against mid- and long-range missile launchers. Nasrallah fears that Israel might preempt his planned attack by deploying its air force to Cypriot bases, a scenario the Israeli air force practiced with Cyprus during military exercises over the past year.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Cyprus, Hizballah, U.S. Security