Mount Temple 

By Tanya Reinhart 

In today's setting, it is hard to recall that just a few years
ago, only some fringe lunatics demanded Israeli control of
'Mount-temple'. Every time they tried to enter the place and
pray, Israeli police would be there to block their entrance or
drag them out. Even the word 'mount temple' was perceived
as belonging to the bizarre vocabulary of religious fanatics.
Today it is the Israeli government that launches the holy war.
Israel's foreign affairs minister - the ex-liberal Shlomo Ben-Ami
- declares day and night that "no nation can give up its
sacred sites" and the world nodes and accepts. Sharon could
not have entered the site without approval of Barak and the
government. His visit has been carefully planned, with a
thousand soldiers securing it and taking shooting positions on
the roofs in advance. It is not Sharon who is responsible for
the present massacre, but Barak, Ben Ami, the Israeli
government, and Israel's "peacenicks" who have been
supporting them all the way through. 

Israel's claim on 'mount temple' is completely new (brought up
only since the recent Camp David negotiations). In 1995's
Beilin-Abu Maazen plan for the final agreement, which is the
basis for the present 'negotiations', it was still stated that the
area will be in 'exterritorial Palestinian sovereignty'(1). The
more Arafat gives in, the more new demands are brought up
by Israel. 

The Beilin Abu-Mazen document, itself, is a shameful
document, which leaves all the settlements untouched, and
acknowledges Israeli sovereignty over most of the central
West Bank. It was agreed that Arafat will renounce, on behalf
of the Palestinians, any claim on Jerusalem, and the
Palestinian institutions will move to the village Abu-Dis,
bordering with Jerusalem. In return, Arafat will be allowed to
call Abu-Dis the capital of the Palestinian state. The verbal
trick was that Abu-Dis will be named Al-Kuds, so it can be
presented like the city is divided to the Jewish part 'Jerusalem'
and the Palestinian part 'Al Kuds'. Arafat has agreed to this
long time ago. E.g. in 'Haaretz' 5.5.98 (Akiva Eldar) it is
reported that "Yaser Arafat accepts the idea that the capital
of the Palestinian state will be Abu-dis, neighboring Jerusalem,
and sees the understandings included in Beilin-Abu maazen
agreement as a realistic option for the final agreement with
Israel." "In a meeting with the Middle East section of the
foreign affairs council whose center is in New-York... Arafat
was asked if it is possible to reach an agreement with Israel
also on the question of Jerusalem. Arafat: 'Certainly, it is
possible to accept the idea of Abu-Dis, which belonged to
Al-Kuds also under Jordanian rule." 

Even that was not good enough for Barak. In the original Beilin
Abu-Mazen plan, only the land with the Jewish settlements of
the central WB (labelled "Jerusalem") was to be annexed. - So
they prepared a rather windy map that surrounds these
settlements but includes no Palestinians. Israel's interest in
doing it this way was to avoid the need of giving these
Palestinians Israeli citizenship including social rights - health
etc, or political rights of voting. Barak 'straightened' the maps.
The annexation proposed in Camp David will include also the
areas with Palestinian residents. But these residents will not
be given Israeli citizenship, since "they will vote for the
Palestinian state." So this enables annexing the land without
giving any rights to the annexed Palestinian residents (2). 

It appears that the Palestinian negotiators in Camp David
have also agreed to this proposal. Or at least we have never
heard otherwise. But then Barak came up with the new
demand that the Palestinians will also renounce their hold in Al
Aksa (Mount Temple). Even a collaborator like Arafat cannot
accept such a demand and survive. 

No rational account could tie these facts together. It is hard
to avoid the conclusion that Barak is not interested now in
any formal agreement with the Palestinians, not even in the
full surrender that Arafat was willing to accept. Barak and
Sharon, who may soon join him in power, see only one solution
to the 'Palestinian problem' - elimination! It is not at all
impossible that in their sick general's mind they believe that if
one applies sufficient force, it may be possible to drive more
and more Palestinians out of Jerusalem and the central bank,
and get this land Arab-free. And it won't be confined to the
occupied Palestinians. For several weeks now, Israeli
Palestinians have been subject to vicious attacks, and more
and more voices in the media (orchestrated, as always, from
above) complain about how they have too many rights. Israel
has become the land of apartheid. 


(1) Newsweek 17.9.00; 'Haaretz 18.9.00. 

(2) Nahum Barnea "Yediot Aharonot" 30.6.00: "The Arabs
living in the settlement blocks which will be annexed to
Israel will have the same rights as the Israelis living in
Palestine: They will vote to the Palestinian state and will
live by its laws." 

Tanya Reinhart Tel Aviv University and the university of