Jordan Is Fomenting Violence on the Temple Mount

Last week, as thousands of Muslims gathered for peaceful Ramadan prayers at al-Aqsa, some 350 young men barricaded themselves in the mosque with firecrackers and large rocks, refusing to evacuate upon the request of authorities. Police then forcibly removed them to prevent further escalation and desecration of the holy site, creating a violent scene then used to stoke riots in Gaza and some parts of Israel. Benny Avni examines the role played by King Abdullah of Jordan:

Defying expectation for violence, prayers at Jerusalem’s holy sites since the start of Ramadan, on March 22, went on with no incident until Wednesday. So why would the Hashemite king, a close ally of America and Israel, issue a call to “defend” the mosque even before violence erupted? Why was his language so similar to that of Hamas agitators and other Iran-funded terrorist groups?

Amman enjoys the fruits of the peace treaty Jordan signed with Israel in 1994. So does Israel. Beside security cooperation, which helps to secure the Hashemite palace in an often-restive Palestinian-majority country, Israel supplies much of Jordan’s energy and water needs. Yet, “Every Ramadan, like clockwork, we see the Hashemite kingdom coming with vitriol” like this week’s statement, a Mideast watcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Jonathan Schanzer, tells the Sun.

On issues related to the Temple Mount, Jordan is too often the problem, rather than the solution. Beyond bromide State Department statements calling on all sides to maintain calm, Washington would do well to remind Amman of the benefits of relations with Israel, and tell King Abdullah to cool his overly heated rhetoric.

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Jordan, Temple Mount, U.S. Foreign policy

Why Arab Jerusalem Has Stayed Quiet

One of Hamas’s most notable failures since October 7 is that it has not succeeded in inspiring a violent uprising either among the Palestinians of the West Bank or the Arab citizens of Israel. The latter seem horrified by Hamas’s actions and tend to sympathize with their own country. In the former case, quiet has been maintained by the IDF and Shin Bet, which have carried out a steady stream of arrests, raids, and even airstrikes.

But there is a third category of Arab living in Israel, namely the Arabs of Jerusalem, whose intermediate legal status gives them access to Israeli social services and the right to vote in municipal elections. They may also apply for Israeli citizenship if they so desire, although most do not.

On Wednesday, off-duty Israeli soldiers in the Old City of Jerusalem shot at a Palestinian who, it seems, was attempting to attack them. But this incident is a rare exception to the quiet that has prevailed in Arab Jerusalem since the war began. Eytan Laub asked a friend in an Arab neighborhood why:

Listen, he said, we . . . have much to lose. We already fear that any confrontation would have consequences. Making trouble may put our residence rights at risk. Furthermore, he added, not a few in the neighborhood, including his own family, have applied for Israeli citizenship and participating in disturbances would hardly help with that.

Such an attitude reflects a general trend since the end of the second intifada:

In recent years, the numbers of [Arab] Jerusalemites applying for Israeli citizenship has risen, as the social stigma of becoming Israeli has begun to erode and despite an Israeli naturalization process that can take years and result in denial (because of the requirement to show Jerusalem residence or the need to pass a Hebrew language test). The number of east Jerusalemites granted citizenship has also risen, from 827 in 2009 to over 1,600 in 2020.

Oddly enough, Laub goes on to argue, the construction of the West Bank separation fence in the early 2000s, which cuts through the Arab-majority parts of Jerusalem, has helped to encouraged better relations.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Jerusalem