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US, Israel, Jordan Agree on Solution to Jerusalem Tension

November 19, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry-PM Benjamin Netanyahu-King Abdullah II-Amman

US Secretary John Kerry speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Abdullah II of Jordan on November 13, 2014, in Amman, Jordan, before the three began a trilateral meeting about ways to restore calm and deescalate tensions in Jerusalem.  (Photo: US State Department )

“How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?  Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save?  Why do you make me look at injustice?  Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?  Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.”  (Habakkuk 1:2–3)

Jerusalem—and other parts of Israel—have been wracked with riots and terror attacks that have killed at least 11 Israelis in the past month, primarily through stabbings and vehicle attacks against Israeli civilians.

The Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site and Islam’s third, is the source of tension, which has resulted in violent clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and security forces, and an assassination attempt on Yehuda Glick, a Temple Mount activist advocating for the right of Jews and Christians to pray on the Mount.

Yehuda Glick_Temple Mount activist

Yehuda Glick was shot four times two weeks ago at the entrance of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center by a 32-year-old terrorist. According to Glick, who is still in hospital recovering, the shooter faced him and said, before shooting him, “I’m really sorry; you are an enemy of al-Aqsa.”  (Ynet)

To de-escalate the situation, on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Jordan’s King Abdullah and United States representative John Kerry in Amman to discuss the recent surge of violence in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount.

The meeting allegedly ended on a positive note, with Netanyahu apparently directing Jordan to exercise its authority at the Temple Mount, noting that the Islamic Waqf was aware of the riots taking place there.  (Times of Israel)

Netanyahu emphasized that ending the violence requires ending incitement to violence, adding that incitement from the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) official media, and from the social media pages of Abbas’ Fatah party and the PA security service have triggered much of the recent bloodshed.  (Haaretz)

Kerry gave general assurances that a plan had been reached to quell Jerusalem tensions.

“We are working to smother the sparks of immediate tension so that they don’t become a fire that is absolutely out of control,” said Kerry after Thursday’s three-way discussion, which followed a private meeting between Kerry and the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas earlier in the day.

Netanyahu has repeatedly and strongly committed to uphold the status quo on the Temple Mount in statements to the public, as well as to Kerry on Thursday; however, both Abbas and Abdullah have accused Israel of trying to do otherwise.

“President Abbas himself called on Palestinians to prevent Jews from entering the Temple Mount. He used the words: “… by any means possible,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu.

“See, this—the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism, where Jews have visited peacefully for years —President Abbas says we should not set foot there. That’s changing the status quo,” he emphasized.  (JPost)

Jewish visitors-Temple Mount-police-security

Israeli security officers protect four Jewish men visiting the Temple Mount because violence against Jews easily erupts in crowds of Muslim worshipers on the Mount.

Abbas has claimed that Jews “contaminate” the Mount and that Israel plans to allow Christian and Jewish prayer there (thus overturning the “status quo”).  On Tuesday, Abbas said that Jewish prayer on the site would risk a global religious war.  (Times of Israel)

“Keep the settlers and the extremists away from Al-Aqsa and our holy places,” Abbas commanded.  “We will not allow our holy places to be contaminated.  Keep them away from us and we will stay away from them, but if they enter al-Aqsa, [we] will protect al-Aqsa and the church and the entire country,” he said.  It is uncertain to which church he was referring.

According to Kerry, Abbas on Thursday voiced “commitment to non-violence and to restoring calm” in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.  But Abbas’ alleged commitment conflicts with his previous calls to Arabs to prevent Jewish “desecration” of the Mount.

His alleged stance also conflicts with a provocative claim on November 4 by Abbas’ spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh, equating Israel’s security closures of the Temple Mount last month to a sweeping “declaration of war on the Palestinian people, Palestinian religious sites and a declaration of war on both the Arab and Islamic states.”  (CNN)

The Jerusalem police closed the Temple Mount for a day following the attempted assassination of Rabbi Yehudah Glick last month.

US Secretary of State John Kerry-PA President Mahmoud Abbas-Amman-Jordan

US Secretary of State John Kerry says goodbye to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, on November 13, 2014, following meetings with him and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, and before another with King Abdullah II of Jordan.  (Photo: US State Department)

Kerry did not outline specifics for Jerusalem’s de-escalation plan, which came only hours after a new Arab riot erupted in the Issawiya neighborhood of northeastern Jerusalem.  (Israel National News)

Meanwhile, at a press conference, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said that Netanyahu promised to maintain Jordan’s custodial status over the Temple Mount, conferred in a 1994 peace treaty between the two young countries.  (Haaretz)

The promise comes after Abdullah ordered his officials not to attend a 20th anniversary ceremony for the Jordan-Israel peace treaty, calling Temple Mount clashes a “stab wound” on peace between Jordan and Israel.  (Times of Israel)

Abdullah also stated, however, that the Jordan-Israel peace treaty would not be canceled, after thousands of Jordanians demanded the government scrap the peace accord, in November 7 protests in Amman.

“Death to Israel,” cried the crowd, while Amman’s Muslim Brotherhood party head, Sheikh Hammam, said, “Why are you keeping the embassy of the Jews?  It should be demolished with everyone in it.”  (YNet)

“But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.  We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.”  (Psalm 33:18–20)

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