Monday, September 14, 2020

Report Contends UAE-Bahrain-Israel Deal Could Change Status Quo On Temple Mount

Relying on a Report from the NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem, Al Jazeeera says that a clause in the UAE-Bahrain normalization agreements with Israel could lead to a change in status of the Temple Mount/ Al-Aqsa compound. Under the current status quo arrangements, only Muslims can pray on the Temple Mount/ Al-Aqsa compound.  President Trump's Middle East Peace Plan called for the Temple Mount to be open to worshipers of all faiths. However a later clarification by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman  said: "The status quo, in the manner that it is observed today, will continue absent an agreement to the contrary." Recent statements by the UAE and Bahrain are now being seen as signaling a breach of the status quo arrangement.

Donald Trump's Peace Plan carefully referred to the Temple Mount as "Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif."  The August 13 Joint Statement by the UAE, Israel and the United States as well as the September 11 Joint Statement by Bahrain, Israel and the U.S. include the following statement which refers only to Al Aqsa Mosque:

As set forth in the Vision for Peace, all Muslims who come in peace may visit and pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque, and Jerusalem’s other holy sites should remain open for peaceful worshippers of all faiths.

According to the Terrestrial Jerusalem Report:

Israel defines Al Aqsa as the structure of the mosque, as does the wording of the Statement, whereas Muslims define Al Aqsa as the entire esplanade of Haram al Sharif/the Temple Mount. Consequently, according to Israel (and apparently to the United States), anything on the Mount that is not the structure of the mosque is defined as "one of Jerusalem's other holy sites", and open to prayer by all – including Jews. Accordingly, Jews may now be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount, just not in the mosque....

Both the Israeli Prime Minister and the US negotiating team fully understand the significance of every word and every nuance relating to Jerusalem in general, and to the Temple Mount/Haram Al Sharif in particular. Consequently, this choice of terminology is neither random nor a misstep, and cannot seen as anything but an intentional, albeit surreptitious attempt to leave the door wide open to Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, thereby radically changing the status quo.