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The al-Aqsa Mosque represents Palestinian cultural and national identity. Israel ignores this at its peril

July 26, 2017, midnight

Israel’s actions may well lead to catastrophic consequences which go far beyond Jerusalem and Palestine/Israel and will stir up the whole Middle East, leading to an unprecedented flare-up of regional tensions. Prof./Amb. Manuel Hassassian

Israel must take full responsibility for the ongoing escalation of the crisis over the al-Aqsa mosque. Realizing its grave mistake in handling this issue, Israel is now dismantling the metal detectors which would do nothing but humiliate and dehumanize the thousands of Muslim worshippers who pray at Haram al-Sharif compound. Incredibly, however, it has asserted it will be installing new, equally invasive surveillance techniques which will contravene the delicate set of arrangements governing access, security and administration of the site since Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem began, 50 years ago. Israel does not have the right to change the status quo.

The installation of metal detectors and any other surveillance technology is an act of asserting control over the holy site in occupied East Jerusalem and flagrantly disregards profound Palestinian religious and cultural sensitivities around the compound. The al-Aqsa mosque and the Haram al-Sharif is a powerful symbol of Palestinian national aspiration which transcends religious and political divisions.

It is not the first time Israel has desecrated the holy site and it must be well aware that in its occupation of Jerusalem it is sitting on time bomb. The volatility of the situation has been very clearly demonstrated by recent events. If it is Israel’s intention to fan the flames of religious conflict by bending to the will of extreme right wing elements in the Israeli cabinet, it must be prepared for the consequences. It is using religious sentiments for its own self-serving ends but any change of the status quo governing al-Aqsa will result in chaos in Jerusalem, the utter destruction of whatever is left of the ‘peace process’ and lead to the severing of all ties between the Palestinian leadership, including security collaboration.

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