by Eli E. Hertz
Israel reunited Jerusalem as one city in 1967, after Jordan joined the Egyptian and Syrian war offensive and shelled the Jewish parts of the city. One of Israel’s first acts was to grant unprecedented freedom to all religions in the city. Israeli leaders vowed Jerusalem would never again be divided.
Despite the disgraceful treatment of the Jewish Quarter and the Mount of Olives under Jordanian control and despite their violation of their pledges to make all holy sites accessible to Jews and Christians, one of the first acts Israel undertook after reuniting the city was to guarantee and safeguard the rights of all Citizens of Jerusalem. This included not only free access to holy sites for all faiths but also represented an unprecedented act of religious tolerance. Israel granted Muslim and Christian religious authorities responsibility for managing their respective holy sites. Additionally Israel granted Muslim administration of Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount.
Eventually, however, the Waqf, which holds administrative responsibility over the Temple Mount, violated the trust with which it was invested to respect and protect the holiness of the Temple Mount for both Muslims and Jews.
Eli E. Hertz
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