Israeli excavation works near the al-Aqsa mosque in the holy city of Jerusalem have led to a dangerous rise in Middle East tensions and could derail revival of Arab-Israeli peace talks,” Jordan’s King Abdullah said on Tuesday.
“This is a dangerous escalation we have seen in the last few hours … These works and excavations pose a threat to the foundations of al-Aqsa (al-Sherif),” the monarch said.
The Hashemite ruling family of Jordan, which traces its lineage back to the Prophet Mohammad, has acted as custodian of the Muslim shrines of Jerusalem since the British mandate of Palestine in the early 20th century.
The family kept this role in the divided holy city even after Jordan lost East Jerusalem and the West Bank to Israel in a 1967 war.
More protests: “Jordanian Ambassador to Israel condemns dig in J-m,” by Roee Nahmias for YNet News:
Embassador [sic] Al-Ayed told Jordanian news agency Petra that he demands Israel discontinue the excavations started on Tuesday, and warned against the dangers consequences resulting from “unilateral and irresponsible actions that provoke Muslims’ sentiment all over the world.”
YNet News also provides background information on conspiracy theories concerning the al-Aqsa mosque in “The lethal al-Aqsa plot hoax,” by Yaakov Lappin:
As the Israel Antiquities Authority begins construction work at the Mugrabi Gate in Jerusalem in order to make the area structurally sound and safe for visitors, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has called on Muslims “to defend the al-Aqsa Mosque.” Hamas has also charged Israel with “demolishing parts of the Aqsa mosque” on its website.
Although the works are not taking place on the Temple Mount, the Hamas website accused “the Israeli occupation government of conspiring to finally destroy the Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest Muslim shrine world-wide, and to install the alleged Third Temple on its ruins.”
A history of false charges
Since the 1920s, Palestinian leaders have used the site as a rallying cry to wage war against the Jewish presence in Israel, and to try and gain support from Muslims abroad. The Palestinian prime minister today is continuing a 90-year tradition of
incitement, which began with the Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini.
Husseini, who is widely seen as the father of Palestinian nationalism, used the al-Nabi festival, which commemorates the defeat of the Crusaders, and conquest of Jerusalem by the Islamic general Sala’ah al-Din, to instigate anti-Jewish riots in April 1920, even
before he became a mufti. His message was simple: Jews are the new Crusaders, and Islam must re-invade Jerusalem.
After being elected mufti (through dubious strong-arm tactics, according to some sources,) and becoming head of the Supreme Muslim Council, Haj Amin embarked on an ambitious project of restoring the al-Haram (Dome of the Rock) and the al-Sharif (al-Aqsa
By doing so, Haj Amin hoped to draw the attention of millions of Muslims to the Palestinian cause, and to gain material and financial support so that he could fight the growing Zionist Jewish community in Israel.
Members of the Islamic Council traveled around Muslim countries in the 1920s to gain support, with one delegation to Mecca stating: “The Islamic Palestine Nation, which has been guarding al-Aqsa and (the) Holy Rock ever since 1300 years, declares to the Muslim world that the Holy Places are in great danger on account of the horrible Zionist aggressions.”
Haj Amin also had photos with the Star of David superimposed on the Dome of the Rock distributed widely, in order to convince Muslims of a “Jewish plot” against the site.