Friday, October 12, 2007

Palestinians Up the Ante: Demand Muslim Control of the Western Wall

Contrary to what most people assume, the Kotel HaMaaravi, the Western Wall, is not Judaism's holiest place. The holiest spot on earth, to a religious Jew, would be the site on Har HaBayit, the Temple Mount, where once stood the Kadosh HaKadoshim, the Holy of Holies, the innermost chamber of the Beit HaMikdash, the Temple, where the Aron HaKodesh, the Holy Ark, once rested.

However, since the destruction of the Temple and the Roman exile of the Jewish people from the Land of Israel, the closest that Jews were permitted to come to the Holy of Holies was the Western Wall. Even today, forty years after God gave Israel the incredible victory in the Six-Day War, which returned the Temple Mount to Jewish sovereignty for the first time in almost 2000 years, the closest place to the Holy of Holies that a Jew may pray is the Western Wall. That is due to the cowardly refusal of successive governments of Israel to stand up for Jewish religious rights in the face of Muslim intimidation. Under an agreement with the Muslim Waqf, Jews and Christians may visit certain parts on the perimeter of the plaza at the top of the Temple Mount perimeter, but may not pray there. During the time period from 1948 until 1967, when the Old City of Jerusalem was last under Arab control, no Jew could pray at the Western Wall at all.

That is apparently the status quo ante to which the Palestinian Authority and the Muslim Waqf want to return. Not satisfied with promises by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israeli territorial compromises matching or exceeding the offer made by Ehud Barak at Camp David and Taba in 2000, including Palestinian sovereignty over the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount itself, yesterday the Palestinian Authority upped the ante. According to the New York Sun:

"An aide to the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, said yesterday that the Palestinians will demand sole Arab control over Judaism's holiest site in Jerusalem, the Western Wall.

Mr. Abbas's adviser on religious affairs, Adnan al-Husseini, made the new demand in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv ... ."

This is part and parcel with the longstanding Palestinian policy of denying that the Jewish people have any historical tie to Jerusalem or the Temple Mount. One blatant manisfestation of that policy has been the destruction by the Muslim Waqf of archaelogical artifacts on the Temple Mount, exposed by its construction activities.

Interestingly, although the Los Angeles Times ran a story today about the stalemate in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations leading up to the Annapolis peace conference scheduled for November, it did not mention this latest PA demand. Perhaps the story broke too late (although the Times does not mention it on its online site either) or perhaps it simply did not fit into the Times' "blame Israel" script.

This may actually be a hopeful development, further proof that God watches over fools and the Jewish people. Previously on the Hedgehog Blog, I speculated that the Palestinians would save Israel from a disastrous, dangerous territorial concession, by demanding more than even Ehud Olmert could concede. [See "Will Palestinian Intransigence Once Again Save Israel From the Folly of Her Leaders?" The Hedgehog Blog, October 1, 2007.]


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