Gershon Baskin, the co-CEO of IPCRI — Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information touches upon several topics in his Oct. 12 commentary in The Jerusalem Post, but none more effectively than the question of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem:
… Events, particularly those surrounding Jerusalem, have their own internal energy that, as we have seen in the past, can easily get out of control. In this region, we should make sure not to let the genie out of the bottle — and Jerusalem is the ultimate genie. Both the Israeli and Palestinian governments should be extremely cautious in their handling of Jerusalem. The second intifada was launched because of a misinterpretation of the direction of Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to the Temple Mount close to a decade ago. Sharon’s target was then-prime minister Ehud Barak, not the Palestinians.
THE PALESTINIANS today do not understand that Israel is not planning to destroy al-Aksa Mosque or to take over the Temple Mount, despite the desire to do so by some right-wing and religious fanatics.
Because of the sensitivity of the situation in Jerusalem, Israel should unilaterally freeze its excavations in the area of the mosques for a limited time. The Israel Antiquities Authority should invite Palestinian experts, religious leaders and PA officials to see the excavations area firsthand. Israel should also invite PA President Mahmoud Abbas to Jerusalem, to pray in al-Aksa Mosque, to see the Western Wall and the excavations around the mount.
Abbas should then declare his recognition of the fact that the Temple Mount was the location of the Holy Temple (which is even mentioned in the Koran). Abbas need not worry that his recognition would grant Israel and the Jewish people the green light to rebuild the Temple in place of the mosques. There is no such intention, there are no such plans and the Chief Rabbinate has once again stated that Jews should not go onto the Temple Mount as a matter of Halacha.
According to Jewish law, the Temple will be rebuilt only when the messiah comes, so Abbas should be able to rest assured that until the messiah arrives, the Temple Mount will remain under Muslim control – and when the messiah finally does show up, he will be wise enough to deal with the future of the mount.
The Palestinians should understand that when Yasser Arafat foolishly denied the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Holy Temple, he did great damage to the peace process. Recognizing this fact would facilitate greater understanding. …
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