In order for the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas to hold up, Jews must be barred from visiting the Temple Mount — Judaism’s holiest site — in Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers.
Abbas told Safadi Foreign Minister of Egypt Sameh Shoukry and Foreign Minister of Jordan Ayman Safadi at a meeting in Ramallah on Tuesday that the cessation of violence Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group must include “stopping attacks and incursions by extremist settlers, backed by the Israeli occupation forces, on al-Aqsa Mosque and on our people in the West Bank,” according to a translation of his remarks by the Jerusalem Post.
The al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount complex — which is third holiest site for Muslims — was the scene of major clashes earlier this month during the waning days of Ramadan, which resulted in Hamas firing rockets over the capital.
The Palestinian leadership calls visits by Jews to the flashpoint site “incursions,” and according to the Post, often describes the Jews as “storming” the site. Jewish worshipers were once again granted access to the site after three weeks of shutdown during the clashes and ensuing war with Hamas.
The Temple Mount marks the spot where both the First and the Second Jewish Temple stood. Today the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock Shrine are located there and the site is administered by Jordanian Waqf. Jews visiting the site are routinely arrested for violating the rule prohibiting non-Muslim prayer with the utterance of Jewish verses or prostration.
Abbas also told the Arab foreign ministers the Palestinian Authority should be included in any plans to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip after the recent 11-day conflict.
He also expressed his willingness to work with the Biden administration and other members of the Mideast Quartet – namely, Russia, the United Nations, and European Union – to restart the moribund peace process with Israel that would see the establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.
According to a statement by Safadi, King Abdullah sent a message to Abbas expressing Jordan’s “support for ending the Israeli aggression on the Palestinians in Jerusalem and the holy sites.”
He added that “escalation in Palestine won’t stop unless Israel halted its illegal measures and assaults on al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Safadi further warned that the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, another event that was seen as a catalyst for the latest round of conflict, would be considered a “war crime” that would “lead to an explosion in Palestine.”
Last month, after a decades-long legal case which has yet to reach the High Court, a lower court ruled that six Palestinian families had to evacuate homes in Sheikh Jarrah. The Palestinians residing there had never paid rent while the Jewish Israelis who had hoped to move in to the properties secured the title deeds in a legal manner. Nevertheless, the incident turned into a symbolic event of international proportions.