by Shlomo Cesana
We can put an end to the shock felt every time Muslim riots break out on the Temple Mount -- all it takes is a few simple steps.
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the most volatile place in the world, or at least in the Middle East, people are always saying. If that's really true, shouldn't the people entering the gates of the compound undergo security checks like the ones airports conduct before passengers are allowed to board a plane? Isn't it time to forbid anyone carrying a match from entering this flammable holy site?
The hackneyed question asked repeatedly, often in the titles of opinion pieces in the print media, is, "Is the Temple Mount in our hands?" For anyone who is still wondering, the answer is yes. Israel Police officers are stationed at each of the 10 entrances to the Temple Mount. Neither the Muslim Waqf nor any other organization has Vatican-like control over the compound.
We can put an end to the shock felt every time Muslim riots break out on the Temple Mount -- all it takes is a few simple steps. We could demand, for example, that Muslims be held to the same conditions as non-Muslim visitors to the mount (advance registration, name and ID card number, a body and bag search.)
We could set up X-ray machines and metal detectors at the gates, require visitors to deposit their ID cards at the gate until they leave, and keep a record of who enters the compound. Either way, when there are riots, all worshippers and visitors to the Mount would be evacuated, so it would be clear who was actually rioting and barricading themselves. That, along with security camera footage, would make it easier to issue restraining orders keeping people off the Mount. Those who incite in mosques could also be kept away through restraining orders. Meanwhile, the Israel Police could clear out the stockpiles of rocks, pipes and bottles on the Mount and allow the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Tourism Ministry to operate in the compound.
None of these courses of action would harm the status quo that people want to preserve. These changes do not comprise any alteration to the policy, upheld by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of not allowing Jews or other non-Muslims to pray on the Temple Mount. We are talking about steps that would tighten control over public order and prevent Israel's image from being tarnished with images of well-shielded Israel Police officers busting into Al-Aqsa mosque.
Various governments throughout the years have conducted policy about the Temple Mount in a manner that edged Israel out of the place that is holiest to it, from the initial decision after the compound was taken by Israeli forces in 1967 and through the fateful mistake of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who as part of the peace agreement with Jordan gave King Hussein special authority over what happens on the Temple Mount in an attempt to compensate the king for the Oslo Accords.
During his visit to London last week, Netanyahu said that the Middle East was changing before our eyes and that decades-long arrangements were collapsing. Therefore, he said, Israel had to adapt and protect its security. We can begin to do so in the heart of the capital, on the rock of our existence.
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