Tensions run high over Temple Mount around Tisha B'Av fast
- Sunday, July 29, 2001 Av 9, 5761
Israel Time: 01:59 (GMT+3)
Last update - 23:21 28/07/2001Tensions run high over
Temple Mount around Tisha B'Av fast
By Moshe Reinfeld, Ha'aretz Correspondent and Itim News
The row over the Temple Mount Faithful's demand to lay
a cornerstone on the top of the Temple Mount on Sunday
continued Saturday, with Communications Minister and
acting Public Security Minister Reuven Rivlin saying that
the group would not be allowed access to the Mount to
lay the marble stone.
Jerusalem Police on Saturday accused the Islamic
movement of provocation and of attempting to inflame
the issue of the Temple Mount Faithful's demand to lay a
cornerstone on the Temple Mount in Jerualem. The police
said that the Islamic movement's claim that the group
was going to lay the cornerstone on the Mount was
inaccurate and that the group had been authorized to go
as far as the Givati parking lot, a few hundred meters
from the Mount.
The Temple Mount Faithful - a Jewish messianic
movement committed to the rebuilding of the Jewish
Temple - wants to place a symbolic "cornerstone" for the
rebuilding of the Temple near the entrance to the Mount
on the Ninth of Av, a day of mourning to commemorate
the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD, which
falls on Sunday.
The police added that they were considering taking action
against the Islamic movement after it called on all
Muslims to go to the Al Aqsa Mosque (called al-Haram al-
Sharif by Muslims) on the Mount to protest against the
laying of the cornerstone. The Mufti of Jerusalem called
on all Palestinians to visit the Temple Mount on Saturday
and Sunday to protest against the stone laying and to
protect the holy places of Islam.
The Palestinian Authority issued a warning to Israel
earlier Saturday against allowing the Temple Mount
Faithful to lay the stone. The warning said that the
government of Israel would be responsible for the
dangerous consequences of an action of this kind.
Palestinian Minister Nabil Sha'ath said that if "the
cornerstone of the imaginary Temple Mount of the Jews"
was laid, it would cause a Palestinian reaction. "This is
very, very serious. It's pouring fuel on the fire," said
senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, adding that the
PA had requested that the U.S. and Europe intercede to
prevent the ceremony.
Erekat's warnings were echoed in Egypt, where Foreign
Minister Ahmed Maher said he had summoned Cairo-
based ambassadors of the five permanent members of the
UN Security Council for talks.
Maher told reporters the planned move was one of many
Israeli "provocations" which he said contravened
international legitimacy. He said provocations on such a
sensitive issue could lead to an explosive situation.
Palestinian Authority Chiarman Yasser Arafats Fatah Party
urged Palestinians to rally after midday prayers on
Sunday and declared it a "day of rage...to protect the
holy city and the holy sites and al-Haram al-Sharif from
The militant Palestinian group Hamas called on people to
gather at Al Aqsa Mosque on Sunday morning to defend it
"with soul and blood."
"Let Sharon, the Zionist court and all Zionist terrorists
know... that our steadfast people can foil their belligerent
plans and defend Jerusalem and al-Aqsa," it said in a
statement faxed to Reuters in Beirut.
Jordanian sources also warned of the danger of escalation
if the stone laying took place.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court, citing the sensitive
security situation, sided with police officials and rejected
an appeal by the Temple Mount Faithful to be allowed to
visit the Temple Mount.
Supreme Court President Aharon Barak and Justices Tova
Strasberg-Cohen and Daliya Dorner accepted the police
position that the sensitive security situation did not allow
for such a visit to the site.
The Temple Mount Faithful movement also asked the
court to order Superintendent Levy to allow them to
transport a large block of stone to the Mugrabi Gate to
use as the symbolic "cornerstone" for the rebuilding of
the Temple and to allow the use of a megaphone during
On this particular matter, the police said they would allow
the movement to march with the "cornerstone," but along
a different route than the one the group had originally
wanted to use.
In their appeal, the movement claimed that over the last
30 years it has annually hosted events and ceremonies on
the Ninth of Av to mark the destruction of the Temple,
and that the climax of the events involves going up to the
Temple Mount in groups. These processions and
ceremonies have been coordinated with police, as per
instructions from the High Court.
Two weeks ago, the movement asked Superintendent
Levy to allow it to hold the ceremonies, but he would
only allow a limited gathering and prayer session next to
Mugrabi Gate, with no-one being allowed to visit the