By Saeed Shabazz-Staff Writer-
UNITED NATIONS (FinalCall.com) – Heads of the Arab League, the Non-Aligned Movement, Organization of the Islamic Cooperation and the Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour recently complained Israeli extremists, including government officials, have increased threats and tensions over an important Muslim mosque in Jerusalem, repeatedly breaching protocols for the holy site and using troops to storm the grounds.
The Palestinian ambassador said a “red line that cannot be tolerated” was crossed while describing Israeli actions at a press conference flanked by the other leaders.
The chairmen of the groups present want to meet with UN offi cials to present their case against Israeli authorities and pressure Israel to abide by international law, which they say protects the site as an Islamic holy place.
“I doubt the Israelis would take the considerable risks of formally seizing control of Al-Aqsa. However, by threatening such a takeover, it distracts from Israel’s ongoing refusal to respond favorably to U.S. peace initiatives and its ongoing violations of a series on UN resolutions addressing the occupation,” said Professor Stephen Zunes, an International Relations scholar specializing in Middle East politics at the University of San Francisco in an e-mail to The Final Call.
“There also may be a desire to provoke Palestinian Islamists into some kind of violent response, thereby giving the Israelis the excuse to put the focus on ‘terrorism’ rather than the moderation and compromises put forward by the Palestinian Authority,” Prof. Zunes noted.
Pushed by right-wing hardliners in the Knesset, the Zionist state’s parliament, has debated taking over the mosque compound since Jews cannot pray on the site. Israelis call the site the historic home of Jewish temples. In late February, Israeli police battled Palestinian protesters before the Knesset discussion started Feb. 25. The compound has also been a flashpoint in the past.
The chairmen of the UN groups told reporters illegal measures are being used by Israel to erase the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim identity, presence and history, particularly in Jerusalem, but would not succeed.
Just a week earlier, the UN Department of Political Affairs reaffi rmed during a meeting on the Middle East that the “sanctity of holy sites of all faiths must be respected.”
Talk in the Israeli Parliament about taking over Al-Asqa Mosque prompted Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss of New York-based Neturei Karta International to condemn the action in a YouTube video sent to The Final Call March 10.
During his commentary, the religious leader quoted from a 1929 Truth and Peace letter from leading Jewish rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnefeld. “The Jews do not want in any way to take that which isn’t theirs. And they certainly do not want to contest the rights of the other inhabitants to the place held by them which they regard with honor and consider holy. There is no foundation that the Jews want to acquire the Temple Mount. On the contrary, from the time that, because of our sins, we have been lacking the purity required by the Torah, it is forbidden for any Jew to set foot upon the grounds of the Temple Mount,” the letter said.
“We want the world to know that we have no right to Al-Aqsa!” declared Rabbi Weiss after reading the letter. The mosque is recognized as the third holiest site in Islam and is the subject of a night journey by Prophet Muhammad that is important to the faith.
Rabbis from Neturei Karta protested in Washington the White House visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israeli lobbying organization. Some observers say the Al-Aqsa mosque controversy is tied to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s attempts to placate the right wing of his political coalition.
In late February, the Rabbinical Council of Neturei Karta issued a statement condemning actions by Israeli leaders. “The Zionists are now demanding that the Palestinians recognize the State of Israel as ‘a Jewish state’ and ‘the nation state of the Jewish people.’ But authentic Torah Jews around the world declare that the State of Israel is a Zionist state, not a Jewish state, likewise, the name ‘Israel’ is a false and high jacked name,” said the Jewish group.
“May we live to see true peace under Palestinian state, in which Jews and Palestinians live side by side in harmony as they did in centuries past,” the rabbis added.