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Photo: Gil Yohanan
Michael Melchior
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative helped resolve Temple Mount standoff
The Israeli 'Mosaica' organization, together with the Muslim 'Adam Center' takes part in negotiations between the Israel Police and the Waqf to help negotiate an end to the Temple Mount crisis.
The Religious Peace Initiative—a joint Israeli-Palestinian interreligious dialogue group—took part in negotiations between the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf and Israel in an attempt to bring the Temple Mount crisis to an end.

 

 

The Israeli Mosaica organization, together with the Muslim Adam Center worked with both the Israel Police and the Waqf to "translate" into detail the understandings between the Israeli government and Jordan.

 

Rabbi Micharl Melchior (Photo: Guy Asiag)
Rabbi Micharl Melchior (Photo: Guy Asiag)
 

 

Former minister and Knesset member Rabbi Michael Melchior, told Ynet, "The removal of the cameras was not the end of the story. There were a lot more details to the agreement. They were delicate things we can't go into detail about. Despite interest from the public and the press, we don't want to ruin what we have fixed."

 

For Melchior, the bottom line is what matters. Israel removed "provocative and inefficient" security measures while the Waqf will be obligated to keep the quiet at the Temple Mount. However, he makes it clear there is no acceptance of Israeli sovereignty over the site.

 

"We work daily on the subject of religious peace and therefore are very connected to senior Waqf officials and the entire Muslim world," Melchior added. "We kept sending messages from them to the police and back, and in the end we also formulated what would include the Waqf announcement about ending the crisis."

 

Rabbi Melchior agreed to reveal only a small amount of details behind the scenes of the negotiations.

 

"There were extremist people, religious and political officials, who suddenly raised their heads and were not ready under any circumstance to come to an agreement, because they wanted the success of having the metal detectors removed.

 

"After their victory in this, they weren't satisfied with the status quo of July 14, 2017 at the Temple Mount (before the terror attack that led Israel to place the additional security), and there were those who wanted to go back to June 4, 1967 status quo (before the Six-Day War). Despite the fact they normally don't have a lot of say, they managed to create an atmosphere accordingly."

 

Photo: Yael Friedson
Photo: Yael Friedson

  

According to Melchior, these extremist positions also threatened to infiltrate Waqf leadership, but the trust between the parties in the Religious Peace Initiative—which operates centers in east Jerusalem, Ramallah and Gaza—enabled the mobilization of all parties to resolve the crisis.

 

"In the end, we managed to bring all of the eight central leaders of the Waqf to one common position," he said.

 

Melchior is not worried the cabinet decision to place smart cameras at the Temple Mount will resume the crisis, despite threats in recent days from the Muslim side.

 

"As far as I know, there was no such operative decision. In any event, I believe in the future any dialogue will be done through the Waqf," he said.

 

Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg

 

In regards to the perceived shot Israel took to its pride, Melchior said, "Despite all the talk about capitulation, it was in our supreme interest in the end, and I am glad the police also saw it that way. What happened in the last two weeks is that all the extremists began to celebrate here freely. All the moderate voices, usually strong and central, just had their heads down.

 

"The Waqf understands the Temple Mount is a holy place, and they are obligated to keep the peace and quiet. Under no circumstances do they want the place to be used by people to hide arms, cause riots or launch incitement.

 

"Of course this doesn't mean they accept Israeli sovereignty, but they definitely don't want the site to be used for incitement and violence. That in itself is a significant message."

 

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