Hamdallah offers resignation to Abbas

Abbas swore Hamdallah into office on June 2.

Abbas swore Hamdallah into office on June 2.

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Newly appointed Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah submitted his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, informed sources told Ma’an.

The decision is the result of a dispute over the premier’s jurisdiction and limits of power, the sources said.

Abbas swore Hamdallah into office on June 2. Upon taking the oath, Hamdallah pledged that his government would follow President Abbas’ agenda and policies.

His cabinet held only two official sessions. Days ago, Palestinians in Hamdallah’s hometown Nablus demonstrated to urge the government to fight high prices and to lower taxes.

In the short time since taking office, Hamdallah has visited Jerusalem and prayed at the al-Aqsa Mosque. He also met with representatives of organizations in Jerusalem.

(Source / 20.06.2013)

Illegal Moroccan immigrant faces deportation, leaving her four children

A Moroccan woman in Amsterdam is facing deportation to Morocco as an illegal immigrant, even though her four children have Dutch nationality, the Parool reported on Thursday.

Aicha el Maher was picked up almost two weeks ago after officials carried out a spot check on a takeaway cafe, where they said she was working illegally, a fact that she denies. El Maher has since been held in a deportation centre in Rotterdam.

El Maher’s four children, aged 8, 6, 3 and almost two, are now being cared for by a friend while immigration lawyers try to get her released from the deportation centre.

Speed

Her lawyer Abdelhadi el Aqde told local broadcaster AT5 El Maher is willing to return to Morocco.

‘The speed the immigration service have moved at is incomprehensible,’ he said. ‘They could have at least made sure the children were properly looked after… the mother was prepared to go back but not like this.’

The European Court of Justice ruled earlier that parents who are without residency permits should be given proper papers if their children have a European nationality.

Father

A spokesman for the the deportation service said earlier this week El Maher can opt to take her children back to Morocco with her. Her husband is 20 years older than her and is unable to care for them.

According to one media report, El Maher was unable to get a residency permit because her husband lives on benefits and does not have enough income to meet the rules on bringing a foreign bride to the Netherlands.

El Maher was due to be deported on Monday but that was adverted after she made a claim for asylum. She has lived in the Netherlands since 2007.

Queen

Single mother Khadija el Bouni, who is looking after El Maher’s four children as well as her own three, told the Parool she planned to write to queen Maxima to plead her friend’s case.

‘I am going to write to her, spelling mistakes or not,’ El Bouni said. Aware that there is nothing the queen can do, El Bouni said: ‘I just think she should know about it.

(Source / 20.06.2013)

The Netherlands will veto EU sanctions over Israeli settlements: minister

The Netherlands will veto any moves by the European Union to impose sanctions if Israel presses ahead with building settlements on disputed territory east of Jerusalem, foreign minister Frans Timmermans is quoted as saying by news agency ANP.

Timmermans said sanctions are not ‘currently on the agenda’. The minister met with Israeli and Palestinian representatives over the past two days as part of a visit to the Middle East.

The imposition of sanctions would hinder efforts to restart the peace talks and that should be prevented, Timmermans said, adding that it is of great importance to get US secretary of state John Kerry round the table with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

‘President Obama’s initiative is not only the best, but the only option to get the peace process moving again,’ he said in a briefing on Wednesday.

Nevertheless, building on the territory, known as E1, would negatively influence the bilateral relationship between the Netherlands and Israel, the minister said.

(Source / 20.06.2013)

PA has arrested 15,000 Palestinians in six years | #DismantleThePA Not Tomorrow but Today!

Osama Hamdan pointed out that since 2007 the PA has arrested or summonsed around 15,000 fellow Palestinians, mostly affiliates of the groups opposed to Fatah

Osama Hamdan pointed out that since 2007 the PA has arrested or summonsed around 15,000 fellow Palestinians, mostly affiliates of the groups opposed to Fatah

The head of International Relations in the Islamic Resistance Movement has said that political arrests made by the Palestinian Authority against Hamas members do not reflect any serious intention towards national reconciliation. Osama Hamdan pointed out that since 2007 the PA has arrested or summonsed around 15,000 fellow Palestinians, mostly affiliates of the groups opposed to Fatah, including Hamas.

“Almost 120 people were arrested in the first two weeks of June alone,” he noted. Hamdan was speaking following a statement from families of political detainees condemning such “violations” by the PA and calling for the authority to reveal the extent of the abuses taking place in its prisons and detention centres. Nevertheless, he insisted that Hamas is continuing to meet with Fatah officials to find a way to end the Palestinian political schism. In a letter to the Freedoms Committee, detainees’ families said that their sons and daughters are paying the price of the schism and expressed their disappointment at the failure of the two main groups to reconcile their differences.

“Politically-motivated arrests and detentions by the Palestinian Authority have escalated since the recent reconciliation meeting in Cairo,” said the statement. Concern was expressed about the official silence over the campaign of arrest by the PA security services. “These agencies are supposed to be protecting Palestinians, not harassing, arresting and torturing them.” Dozens of detainees are being held without trial and are deprived of family visits, the statement added.

(Source / 20.06.2013)

New wall construction to surround Azzun Atma

On the 18th of June, two bulldozers arrived with Israeli forces in the village of Azzun Atma, southeast of Qalqilya, and began to work on the land  behind the village’s school, to what is believed to be the construction of the new wall.

Accompanying the bulldozers to the village was the Israeli army and border police, including the local Israeli army commander who said the action was based on a High Court decision by the Israeli government. He said it was in order to protect their citizens, and if anybody tried to stop the construction, they would then close the gate to the village, the only way in and out.

A digger works on land behind the school as soldiers watch nearby (Photo by ISM)

A digger works on land behind the school as soldiers watch nearby

Two weeks prior to this, the Israeli army put up signs stating that this is where the construction of the new wall would begin. The villagers fear that this new construction is being done in order to replace the current two metre barbed mesh fence that surrounds the village from all sides and separates it from the settlements nearby, with the concrete wall. The wall’s existence and constant deviation from the Green Line is justified by the Israeli authorities by citing security concerns for its citizens, in this case the illegal settler colonisers in the area.

Azzun Atma is located two kilometres east of the Green Line and encompassed on three sides by the current wall, constructed in 2002, which leaves the village within a settlement block and separates it from the rest of the West Bank. The only way in and out of the village is through a military checkpoint with a small gate.  The village is thus stranded in the “seam zone” between the Green Line and the wall, surrounded by settlements, placing it under full Israeli military control. Access to the village, therefore, is dictated by the Israeli military and the checkpoint is regularly closed, denying the villagers their right to freedom of movement. The villagers thus live under the constant threat of the gate being closed and work permits for the other side of the Green Line being denied.

Palestinians living in the “seam zone” require permanent resident permits from the Israeli authorities to live in their own homes and work on their land. There are often few health and education services available in the “seam zone”, and those living inside it have to rely on checkpoints being open to reach workplaces and essential services.

The school where the construction is taking place has provided education for 300 children in Azzun Atma and a neighbouring village since 1966. Every day, the current wall and checkpoint restricts the freedom of movement of teachers and students. The school has so far lost one dunum of land to the wall and the septic system faces demolition orders.

When the second wall is constructed, Azzun Atma will be isolated from the rest of the West Bank by the already existing wall (see the red line on the map) and the new wall which will further close off the village from the settlement block and the rest of the West Bank (see the black line on the map).

Azzun Atma (Map by OCHA)

Azzun Atma

In 1982, the Israeli authorities established two illegal settlements: Oranit to the northwest and Sha’are Tiqva to the northeast of Azzun Atma. The settlements have expanded over the years, and more than 2500dunums of the village’s land have been stolen by them. Sha’are Tiqva now comes within metres of Azzun Atma, and since 2005, villagers have been subject to verbal harassment from settlers. The wall, though purported to be a security measure, is essentially another way for the Israeli government to steal land from their Palestinian owners and isolate villages and cities from each other, turning them into easily controllable cantons.

Isolating people and making daily life as hard as possible under occupation is a tactic used by the Israeli authorities to force villagers to leave their land and homes. However, residents of Azzun Atma remain steadfast in their land and will continue to resist the land theft, isolation and deprivation of their lives by organising protests.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=AkeDCA2Owl0

(Source / 20.06.2013)

Israel used Palestinian minors as human shields, detain and torture – UN

 

Reuters / Ibraheem Abu MustafaThousands of Palestinian children were systematically injured, tortured and used as human shields by Israel, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child reported. Israel’s foreign minister denied the report’s accusations, calling it “recycled old stuff.”

During the 10-year period examined by UN human rights experts, up to 7,000 children aged 9 to 17 were arrested, interrogated and kept captive, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) said in its new report. At least 14 cases of abuse were reported to have taken place in the past three years.

As conflict in the Gaza Strip and West Bank continues, children on both sides continue to be killed and wounded; however, the majority of victims are Palestinian.

“Hundreds of Palestinian children have been killed and thousands injured over the reporting period as a result of the state party military operations, especially in Gaza where the state party proceeded to [conduct] air and naval strikes on densely populated areas with a significant presence of children, thus disregarding the principles of proportionality and distinction,” Reuters reported, citing the CRC’s report.

It was revealed that the IDF used Palestinian children to enter potentially dangerous buildings, forcing them to stand as human shields to discourage stone-throwing at military vehicles and troops.

“Almost all those using children as human shields and informants have remained unpunished and the soldiers convicted for having forced at gunpoint a 9-year-old child to search bags suspected of containing explosives only received a suspended sentence of three months and were demoted,” the watchdog’s panel of 18 independent experts said.

Throwing stones at soldiers of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is the most common felony for which underage Palestinians are taken to prison – convicted Palestinian minors face penalties of up to 20 years in jail, the CRC reported.

 

Reuters / Yannis Behrakis “Palestinian children arrested by [Israeli] military and police are systematically subject to degrading treatment, and often to acts of torture, are interrogated in Hebrew, a language they did not understand, and sign confessions in Hebrew in order to be released,” the report said.

Children are fitted with leg chains and shackles to appear before military courts, and are often held in solitary confinement. The committee blames Israel’s “long-standing occupation” of Palestinian territory for the “severe and continuous violations of the rights of Palestinian children and their families.”  Many Palestinian children are denied birth certificates, health care and education, as well as basic needs such as clean water.

Israel – which disputes the international stance that its West Bank settlements are illegal – denied the accusations. The Israeli Foreign Ministry accused the UN report of “recycling old stuff” that carries “no importance.”

“If someone simply wants to magnify their political bias and political bashing of Israel not based on a new report, on work on the ground, but simply recycling old stuff, there is no importance in that,” Reuters quoted Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor as saying.

According to Palmor, officials from the ministry and the military cooperated with UNICEF in March for its work on the report. He claimed the effort was aimed at improving the treatment of Palestinian minors in Israeli custody.

“Israel will study the conclusions and will work to implement them through ongoing cooperation with UNICEF, whose work we value and respect,” he said back then.

(Source / 20.06.2013)

Israel considers using dogs to attack Palestinian workers legitimate

 

images_News_2013_06_19_dog_300_0[1]
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Israeli B’Tselem organization reiterated its demand that the occupation authorities cease to use dogs against unarmed Palestinian civilians.

Incidents in which the soldiers use dogs to attack civilians have continued to occur, which indicates that the military considers it legitimate to use attack dogs in such a way.

B’Tselem Director Jessica Montell sent a letter to the Israeli Legal Adviser urging him to forbid the use of dogs against civilians.

This renewed demand follows a recent incident in which two Palestinians who were trying to enter the occupied territories for work were attacked by military dogs. The dogs were in the company of soldiers who then arrested the Palestinians and took them to an Israeli hospital to receive treatment.

Montell stated in her letter that “setting attack dogs on civilians under such circumstances is inherently wrong and morally reprehensible. This use of dogs is dangerous in that they cannot be kept fully under control. It intimidates the population at large and has already caused severe harm to civilians.”

The letter also deals with an incident that took place on Wednesday, 15 May 2013, when three Palestinian youths from the town of Beit Ula came to the section of the Separation Barrier close to their town.

The youths, who do not have permits to enter the occupied territories, intended to cross the wall in order to find work. A military force sighted them, called them to halt, and opened fire. Upon hearing the shots, the youths began running back towards the town.

As they ran, one of them was struck in the leg by a rubber-coated metal bullet fired at him, and the other two were attacked by the dogs.

B’Tselem said “the two required immediate medical attention and were taken by military ambulance to the Barzilai Medical Center in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. The following day, they were questioned by Israel Police and released with a summons for trial at the Ofer military court.”

It added that the third young man was provided with treatment and then released several hours after the incident without being questioned.

(Source / 20.06.2013)

Burgerinitiatief ‘Sloop de Muur’,

Afgelopen week debatteerde de Tweede Kamer over het burgerinitiatief ‘Sloop de Muur’, een actie van maatschappelijke organisaties die willen dat de regering sancties tegen Israël instelt opdat Israël conform de uitspraak van het Internationaal Gerechtshof handelt.
Ik doel op de uitspraak van het Internationaal Gerechtshof van juli 2004, waarin het Hof concludeerde dat de scheidingsmuur die Israël in bezet Palestijns gebied bouwt in strijd is met het internationaal recht. Van die uitspraak van de hoogste rechter van de wereld heeft Israël zich nooit iets aangetrokken. Daarom moet de internationale gemeenschap ingrijpen en druk uitoefenen.

Namens de initiatiefnemers mocht ik voorafgaand aan het Kamerdebat een inleiding houden. Die kunt u hier nalezen. Een bijzonder moment om na 30 jaar weer in ’s Lands vergaderzaal te spreken.

 

Optreden in de Tweede Kamer
Na 30 jaar terug in de Kamer
Helaas leverde het debat niet op wat de meer dan zestigduizend ondertekenaars van het burgerinitiatief en veel anderen hadden gehoopt: politieke steun voor een hardere aanpak van de Israëlisch regering, die volop doorgaat met illegaal beleid dat vrede blokkeert.

Er was zelfs geen Kamermeerderheid voor het opschorten van de “intensivering” van de Nederlands-Israëlische betrekkingen, die op dit moment gestalte krijgt. Hoe is het mogelijk?

Het debat vond plaats vlak voor het bezoek dat minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Timmermans deze week aan Israël en de Westelijke Jordaanoever bracht. Met de Israëlische premier Netanyahu kondigde hij de oprichting van een Nederlands-Israëlisch Samenwerkingsforum aan.
De plannen van het vorige kabinet, dat Israël onvoorwaardelijke steunde, worden nu uitgevoerd – met actieve medewerking van de PvdA. Dat stelt mij ernstig teleur.
In december zei Timmermans in antwoord op Kamervragen: “Uitbreiding van de nederzettingen is de grootste bedreiging voor een twee-statenoplossing. Nederland, in samenwerking met andere EU-lidstaten, zal trachten de Israëlische autoriteiten hiervan te weerhouden.”

Van deze krachtige positie lijkt weinig over. Vandaag zei Timmermans in de Tweede Kamer: “Nederland is tegen sancties”. Zo krijgt Israël carte blanche om door te gaan met de bouw van nederzettingen.

En dat doet Israël. Sterker nog, op de dag dat minister Timmermans met premier Netanyahu de oprichting van het Nederlands-Israëlische Samenwerkingsforum aankondigde, verklaarde de Israëlische minister Naftali Bennet, prominent lid van de regering-Netanyahu en leider van de extremistische Habayit Hayehudi partij, de twee-statenoplossing dood:

“The idea that a Palestinian state will be formed in the land of Israel has come to a dead end... Never in the annals of Israel have so many people expended so much energy on something so futile... The most important thing in Land of Israel is to build, build, build. It's important that there will be an Israeli presence everywhere... This land has been ours for 3,000 years.”
De standpunten van leden van de regering-Netanyahu ten aanzien van nederzettingen en de twee-statenoplossing hebben we voor u in kaart gebracht: Regering Netanyahu: van en voor kolonisten. Onthutsend.

Dát zijn de politieke partners met wie de Nederlandse regering nóg intensiever gaat samenwerken. Dat er ook een Nederlands-Palestijns Samenwerkingsforum gaat komen, verandert niets aan het fundamentele probleem dat Nederland de betrekkingen met Israël intensiveert, terwijl Israël de twee-statenoplossing feitelijk vernietigt.

In 1983, kort na mijn aftreden als premier, woonden er zo’n 100.000 kolonisten in de bezette gebieden, waarvan het overgrote deel in Oost-Jeruzalem. 10 jaar later, aan het begin van het Oslo-proces, was het aantal meer dan verdubbeld. Nog eens tien jaar later, in 2003, woonden er bijna 400.000 kolonisten in bezet gebied. Anno 2013 staat de teller op 550.000 kolonisten.

Terwijl de nederzettingen blijven groeien, verschuilt onze regering zich achter de Verenigde Staten. De VS trachten op dit moment tussen Israël en de Palestijnen te bemiddelen. Minister Timmermans kwalificeerde deze poging als “niet alleen de beste, maar ook de enige optie om het vredesproces weer op gang te krijgen”.

Maar wat als het Amerikaanse initiatief faalt? De kans daarop is groot, ook omdat de Amerikanen hun verzet tegen het nederzettingenbeleid feitelijk hebben opgegeven. Dat mag niemand verrassen. De VS is nooit een eerlijke bemiddelaar geweest. De Amerikaanse historicus Rashid Khalidi schreef er het onthullende boek “Brokers of Deceit” over.

De verantwoordelijkheid van Europa is hierdoor des te groter. Daarover ging ook detoespraak die Koos van Dam afgelopen maandag in Den Haag hield, in het bijzijn van Kamerleden Han ten Broeke (VVD) en Sjoerd Sjoerdsma (D66). Koos van Dam is voormalig Nederlands ambassadeur in Irak, Egypte, Turkije, Duitsland en Indonesië en lid van deRaad van Advies van The Rights Forum. Van Dam is tevens lid van de Adviesraad Internationale Vraagstukken (AIV), die onlangs het belangrijke rapport “Tussen Woord en Daad” publiceerde.

Ik wil besluiten met een belangrijk citaat uit Koos van Dam’s toespraak, waarvan een verkorte versie door opiniesite joop.nl is gepubliceerd:

“De buitenwereld verwacht dat Israël en de Palestijnen onderling wel tot overeenstemming zullen kunnen komen via onderhandelingen, maar vergeet daarbij dat we hier te maken hebben met twee volledig ongelijke partijen: de almachtige Israëlische bezetters en de grotendeels machteloze bezette Palestijnse bevolking die niet in de gelegenheid is haar fundamentele rechten te beschermen… De enige manier om de totstandkoming van een twee-statenoplossing te helpen bewerkstelligen is door zware druk uit te oefenen op Israël. De afgelopen tientallen jaren hebben meer dan voldoende uitgewezen dat officiële resoluties en vriendelijke woorden geen enkel resultaat hebben opgeleverd.”

Mogen deze woorden doordringen in Den Haag.

Hartelijke groet,

(Mail / 20.06.2013)

The plucky professor and the last bigoted democracy

By JAMAL KANJ

Jamal Kanj

ISRAELI president Shimon Peres is hosting in Jerusalem this week a presidential conference called “Facing Tomorrow”. Its theme is the “human factor and its role in shaping our tomorrow”.

In addition to establishing an image as a world leader, Peres envisioned in 2008 a venue to assemble top international scientific and political minds to discuss “the way toward a better tomorrow for Israel, the Jewish people” and then “the entire world”.

This is the person who was a prime minister in 1996 when the Israeli army targeted a United Nations (UN) compound near the village of Qana, South Lebanon, killing more than 100 civilians, mostly women and children.

A UN inquiry concluded that contrary to repeated denials, Israel must have known civilians took shelter inside the UN camp as “two Israeli helicopters and a remotely piloted (reconnaissance) vehicle were present” in the area during and before the mortar shelling.

Amnesty International accused Israel of attacking the UN compound “intentionally”.

In a just world, the Israeli president would be arraigned at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes committed under his leadership. Instead, he is hallowed by hypocritical world leaders at a conference validating his hidebound vision of humanity.

His event might have gone unnoticed but for a towering international scientist, who refused to attend the conference. Stephen Hawking, the world’s foremost physicist, took an audacious step when he turned down the Israeli invitation.

Refusing to share the stage with former US president Bill Clinton – paid $500,000 for his appearance – Hawking opted to join a long list of more principled international writers, singers and artists who refused to visit Israel in protest at its occupation and mistreatment of Palestinians.

Israel and its Western pundits became concerned that Hawking, the most prominent international figure to join the boycott, could open a floodgate of public pronouncements from other international personalities opposing Israel’s racist practices. But instead of discussing the merits of his decision, Israel’s apologists filled the airwaves and print media demonising the world-renowned cosmologist and physicist, using their clichŽd Weapons of Mass Defamation (WMD) to silence critics of Israel.

A surrogate of Israel’s WMD, the uncouth Alan Dershowitz, had the nerve to call the world’s most eminent physicist an “ignoramus” and insinuated he was an anti-Semite.

Israel Maimon, chairman of the presidential conference, was quoted in the Guardian newspaper saying: “Israel is a democracy …. A boycott decision is incompatible with open democratic discourse.”

But Maimon forgot that Israel is exclusively a Jewish democracy, just as South Africa was once a “white” democracy.

Understanding this axiomatic relationship was part of Hawking’s evolving position on Palestine. He visited Israel at least four times earlier and saw firsthand the Jewish-only colonies on stolen land and a separation wall dividing Jews and Palestinians into two unequal societies.

In 2006, he expressed “democratically” to then prime minister Ehud Olmert his disappointment with Israel’s unjust occupation.

Nevertheless, the “Jewish democracy” indulged in its bigoted treatment of non-Jewish communities leading Hawking in 2009 to compare Israel to “South Africa before 1990”.

The chairman of the presidential conference who also denounced Hawking’s academic boycott must have forgotten that the US academic boycott of South Africa – the boycott was supported by elements from Zionist liberal academia – was effective in the fight against the apartheid regime.

I worked with the anti-apartheid movement in college when Israel and Ronald Reagan called for direct engagement with South Africa.

Fortunately, Israel and Reagan’s appeasement concept was brushed aside as the boycott movement in US universities gained momentum – leading to the isolation of the apartheid regime and eventually helping put an end to the system of “white” democracy.

By snubbing the Israeli presidential conference, the intrepid quadriplegic prodigy is shaping a “better tomorrow” for all of humanity by exposing the world’s last bigoted democracy.

Article exposes Zionist plans to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock

Thursday, 20 June 2013 / By Daniel Ben Simon, Al-Monitor Israel Pulse – I went to visit the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem to see how the preparations for the establishment of the new temple were getting on. For hundreds of Israelis, the task of renewing the temple has become the job of their lives. It is about time, so they believe, to establish the Third Temple in its proper place – right on the site where the First Temple and the Second Temple were once standing before being destroyed.

Yehuda Glick is one of the “elite soldiers of the temple” who dedicate their lives to the mission. Since moving to Israel, he has been preparing for the great day, waiting to see the construction of the edifice that is to become the holiest place on earth for the Jewish people. A black skullcap adorning his head, his Hebrew flavored by an Anglo-Saxon accent, Glick spends his time as a tourist guide, escorting visitors to the Temple Mount.

I met Yehuda at the entrance gate to the Temple Mount. There is no greater thrill in his life than to walk on the soil of the Temple Mount. While he has visited the place hundreds or even thousands of times, his heart still beats with excitement on each visit. “As far as I see it, an amazing divine move is manifested here,” he explained while we were waiting in line at the gate. “The state of Israel is a part of this divine move, which will culminate in the establishment of the Third Temple.”

How is it going to be built and who will build it? I asked him. A broad smile spread across his face. He may have felt sorry for me or, perhaps, considered the question to be out of place. “The notion that the Temple will be built by itself, under divine directions, is the sort of idea typical of Diaspora Jews,” my interlocutor noted. He had left New York for Israel at the age of 8, settling with his family in Otniel, south of Hebron. “When I started visiting the Temple Mount 15 years ago, you could hardly gather a minyan – the quorum – for prayer. These days, hundreds of thousands of Jews are coming to pray on the Temple Mount. They expect us to rebuild the temple, and God willing, it will be built.”

Hundreds of tourists, most of them Christians, were standing in line under the scorching sun, waiting for the security check that every visitor seeking entry to the Temple Mount is required to pass. Jews are not allowed to bring in scrolls of the Torah, prayer books, copies of the Book of Psalms or any other article of worship that could be used to establish a mystical association between the Temple Mount and the holy Jewish Scriptures. Under the current arrangements agreed on between Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan, Jews visiting the Temple Mount are banned from openly praying on the premises or swaying in worship. One single event of deviation from the set rules could be enough to spark an international incident.

In fact, precisely such an incident occurred while I was waiting at the entrance gate to the Temple Mount. All of a sudden, shouts were heard from inside the enclosure. The policemen standing on guard at the gate went on alert and hurried to lock it. It turned out that a Muslim worshipper accused an Israeli policeman of knocking down a Quran she was holding in her hands. She started yelling “Allahu Akbar!” and within minutes, dozens of worshippers at the scene rushed to her aid, and some of them even tried to attack the policeman. The Temple Mount was closed to visitors right away and the incident was promptly brought to the attention of the top echelons in Israel, the Palestinian leaders in the territories and the Jordanian king’s palace.

The commanding officer in charge of the Temple Mount site told me that incidents of that kind were an everyday matter. “The policeman on duty reported that the worshipper had thrown down the book on purpose, to stir up a provocation and, needless to say, I believe him,” he said, adding: “Even a minor event is liable to trigger an international incident.”

As the gates to the Temple Mount were closed, Yehuda and I headed for the Jewish Quarter, where the Temple Institute is located. Hundreds of tourists visit the Temple Institute store daily to see at close hand the preparations for the establishment of the temple. “Fifty percent of the visitors are not Jewish,” recounted Reuven Cohen, the store manager, who immigrated to Israel from England 34 years ago. “The Jews are coming here to look for the roots of the temple, whereas the visiting evangelists are deeply involved in the establishment of the temple. They are well aware that their process of redemption is closely interwoven with ours. They actually believe that the path of return of Jesus Christ to this earth passes through our temple.”

The articles of worship intended for use in the new temple, once it is erected, are on display in the store. Kits that include guidelines for proper conduct in the holy site are offered for sale alongside a variety of jigsaw puzzles of the temple – some comprising 24 pieces, for 3-year-old children, and others of 100 pieces and even 1,000 pieces – for the older. Hundreds of books, neatly arranged on the shelves, tell the history of the temples – those that were destroyed and the one that is to be built. There are books on the sacred golden candelabrums, books on the houses that served the Jewish priests who performed their duties at the temple, and others on the ritual sacrifices and prayers, as well as on the way of life that will prevail in Israel after the temple is established.

“Last year we had 50,000 visitors,” David Schwartz, who heads the Temple Institute, proudly stated. “The ever-growing interest shown by tourists reflects the feeling that the days of the Messiah are around the corner. You can sense it in the air – in schools, in synagogues, even in the homes of the secular. Everyone feels it coming up.”

While we were talking, hundreds of visiting school students were wandering around the Institute, impressed by the sights. “Yes, that’s true,” Schwartz added. “As you can see, people are looking for meaning to life. They want to achieve something. We are currently at the stage of preparing people for the construction of the temple.”

On display, next to the architectural building plans, are models showing pilgrims getting down from the light rail at the temple gate station. Others are seen parking their cars in an underground garage to be built beneath the temple. Sophisticated elevators would transport the worshippers right into the temple.

Schwartz, Cohen and Glick are all confident that once the Third Temple is erected, the world will become a fundamentally different place. The Lord would then bestow on Earth great abundance and there would no longer be anyone in need of charity.

“Those who do not feel what is going to happen are either blind or stupid, or ungrateful,” Glick noted, clearly annoyed with me, having noticed the skeptical expression on my face. “There has never been anything like that in the history of the human race; the return of an exiled people to its homeland is unique in human annals. It is all written in the Torah. And the last, supreme stage will be the construction of the temple.”

However, there is one far from marginal factor left out. In all those plans and photographs and illustrations and puzzles and books put forward by the Jewish believers, the Third Temple is seen at the center of the Temple Mount, rising high up above it.

But there is no trace there of the Dome of the Rock, as if the earth had swallowed it up.

(Source / 20.06.2013)