On September 30th 2015, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the PLO, opened his speech to the United Nations General Assembly by ‘raising the alarm’ to the world and giving his version of the facts on the ground regarding the most disputed piece of real estate on Earth. He opened with his position on what is known as the Temple Mount by Westerners, Al Haram Al-Sharif by Muslims, or Har Habayit by Jews.
The fact of the matter is that this man, a terrorist and a tyrant who has held his democratically elected position long after its expiration date, has a point. On the Temple Mount we do find one of the greatest violations of basic human rights with all of the restrictions that are in place. The rights of free speech, expression and religion are obstructed in order to preserve the ‘status quo.’
The status quo leaves the administration of the site to the Waqf. Revered as the holiest site in Judaism as well as being a holy site in Christianity and Islam, the administration allows non Muslims to enter the Temple Mount only a few hours a day, and never on Fridays or Muslim holidays. Additionally, the site is closed for security concerns, resulting mainly from riots during Jewish and Israeli holidays designed to prevent Jewish ascension. Non Muslims may only enter through one of the eleven gates, and are forbidden from practicing any form of religious expression. Despite the numerous Israeli Supreme Court rulings demanding all must be allowed religious freedoms, the status quo on the Temple Mount has not changed.
Over the past year, Abbas has upped his inflammatory rhetoric in relation to the Temple mount, culminating with his statement in September on official PA TV:
“The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours… and they have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.”
He then blessed all the blood spilled in Jerusalem in the name of Allah. This was in response to Israeli police forces being forced to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque to blockade Muslim rioters inside. During the UN address he went on to threaten that if Israel continued this use of brutal force, they would turn the conflict from political to religious. Abbas is parading to the world that his peaceful people are being persecuted and their holy places desecrated, and he has been doing so for years. The truth is that Abbas is inciting violence onto his followers by using the places Palestinians deem holy as their main battleground.
This incitement has led to the violent uprising we are seeing today. However, it is not the first time brainwashing has led to violence among Palestinians. In 2000, the Second Intifada was sparked as a result of similar claims that the Jews were trying to take over the Temple Mount. As a direct result of Abbas’ incitement before and throughout the Second Intifada (from September 2000-2005), 1137 Israelis, 887 of whom were civilians, were killed in attacks. An additional 8,341 Israelis were wounded during this period. Unfortunately, the figures of the past four months are just as upsetting. As of February 2nd, this new wave of terrorism resulted in 30 Israeli civilians being killed and over 300 wounded. There have been 115 stabbings, 40 shootings, and 23 vehicular attacks. Sadly with attacks occurring nearly every day, these stats will have already increased by the time this piece was published.
These tragedies have taken place because the incitement on the side of Palestinian leadership has increased and has not been condemned strongly enough. The world must open its eyes and seek to understand what Israel and her people are dealing with. Abbas is not a partner for a peace, but rather a sneak who deceivingly states his dedication to pursuing diplomacy, while clearly demonstrating the opposite.