So who is really making the Palestinian conflict a religious one? Here’s a hint: It’s not Israel. While the Palestinian furor against Israel has been intensified by outlandish claims of Israeli actions to change the religious status quo atop the Temple Mount, Israel has repeatedly denied the claims and is working to de-escalate the political tensions. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in comments released by his office on Thursday made it clear that Israel respects freedom of religion for both Jews and Muslims.
“We will not permit a situation to occur in Israel in which a person believes that they cannot keep their faith,” said Rivlin. “We believe in the freedom of religion and we provide the Muslims with the freedom to worship on the Temple Mount.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, denounced the “lies” against Israel’s policy toward the holy site.
While Israel sometimes restricts younger persons from visiting the Temple Mount, that is due to security concerns, not an effort to restrict Muslim worship. Netanyahu, in comments published by his office on Thursday, said the recent Palestinian “wave of terrorism” is “all the result of wild and mendacious incitement.”
Regarding that incitement, he blamed Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, several countries in the region and the Islamic Movement in Israel, which he said is “igniting the ground with lies regarding our policy on the Temple Mount and the purported changes that we want to make to the status quo. This is an absolute lie. “
Netanyahu’s effort to calm the tensions surrounding the Temple Mount was explicitly even-handed: No politicians, Jews or Arabs, are to be allowed atop the site, which has been the center of Palestinian riots and propaganda. “We do not need more matches to set the ground afire.”
However, while the Palestinian and Arab religious claims against Israel have been at the core of the latest upsurge in violence, Netanyahu reminded his audience that the conflict is far older than the latest issues.
“This vicious terrorism did not start today. It has accompanied the Zionist enterprise since its beginning,” said Netanyahu. “We have always known how to defeat the rioters and build up our country and so it will be now. The terrorists and the extremists behind them will achieve nothing. We will rebuff them and we will defeat them.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, October 8, 2015)