Sunday, October 28, 2018

A Fifth Minaret? Again?

ElderofZiyon pointed me here where we read

Jordan has asked Israel to allow it to build a fifth minaret on the Temple Mount, on the eastern wall of the Mount, facing the Mount of Olives. The Jordanian request is not new, and as far as it is known, at least at this stage, Israel does not intend to allow it. 

Indeed, that request is not new.

I found a 14-year old reference to a request then.  And more details here (in Hebrew) and also here:

A Jordanian group intends to complete plans for building a fifth minaret on the Temple Mount by the end of the year and begin construction in 2005, said Raef Nijem, deputy chairman of the Committee to Renovate the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, over the weekend.

The committee is an official Jordanian body operating on the Temple Mount with the approval of the Hashemite kingdom as well as Israeli authorities. It mostly deals with renovating the southern wall of the Temple Mount after that section was found to bulge in several spots.

"As per the decision of King Abdullah, the minaret will be built, and it will be the fifth one, representing the five basic pillars of Islam," Nijem said Friday. The fifth minaret is slated for the southeast corner of the Temple Mount.

(And the Hebrew via Google Translate):

A Jordanian delegation headed by engineer Raif Nijam, who was formerly responsible for the holy sites, visited Israel recently and presented a plan to build a fifth mosque tower on the Temple Mount.

Today there are four minarets on the mountain, used by the muezzins (near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, near the Chain Gate, in the northwestern corner of the mountain and in its northeast corner). Apparently, the Jordanians want to build the new minaret in the southeastern corner of the mountain, thereby upgrading their status on the mountain against the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Islamic Movement. In recent years, Israel has tended to strengthen its ties with the Jordanians in relation to the Temple Mount, in order to build an Arab-Muslim powerhouse that will compete with the Palestinians for control of the Temple Mount.

In the past, the Jordanian status on the mountain was much stronger, but it weakened during the intifada. In recent times he has been strengthening again. Arab diplomatic sources told Israel Radio that Israel did not reject the Jordanian request out of hand. Israeli sources confirmed the contacts with the Jordanian delegation, but stressed that nothing had been agreed upon.

The "Hay Vikayam" Movement for the Judaization of the Temple Mount appealed yesterday to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and Jerusalem District Commander Ilan Franco. The movement claimed that the contacts between the Jordanians and the police were illegal, since the police are not authorized to accept or discuss building plans, especially since this is the most sensitive and sacred site for Jews, the Temple Mount. Other activists in the Jewish Temple Mount movements have made it clear that the fifth tower on the mountain will be built "on their bodies."

Israeli officials did not rule out the possibility that talks on the construction of a fifth minaret on the Temple Mount would be part of a deal that would give Muslims compensation for renewing Jewish visits to the Temple Mount 15 months ago, after locking the gates of the mountain for non-Muslims for three years.

The first announcement about Jordanian plans to build a minaret was delivered last Saturday by Sheikh Muhammad Halial, the Jordanian minister of consecration. Halial said King Abdullah had assigned his office to build a fifth minaret. At the end of last week, the Jordanian delegation headed by Engineer Nijam came to Israel. Nijam is number two in the Al-Aqsa Commission, a Jordanian body that deals with the maintenance of the mountain complex. Recently, the body was active in treating the bulge at the southern wall, and in dealing with a similar bulge in the eastern wall of the Temple Mount. The Jordanian delegation also met in Israel with Niso Shaham, the outgoing commander of the Old City Police.

A few days ago Issam Awad, the architect of the Temple Mount on behalf of the Waqf, who is responsible for the preservation of the site, said that he had initiated the conversion of buildings on the Temple Mount to mosques, although they had not previously been used for mosques. Awad referred mainly to the initiative in 1996, in which the underground halls of the Solomon's Stables were transformed into a huge mosque. Awad told the press that he initiated the operation in response to Israeli plans to dig under Solomon's Stables.

In the Jerusalem Post back in October 2006, there were several Readers' Letters:

 Sir, - Re "Jordanian official: Israel unopposed to construction of 5th Temple Mount minaret" (October 12): Perhaps the Israeli authorities need a lesson in Jewish history - back to 1948, when the Jordanians wouldn't permit even one Jew to live in Jerusalem's Old City between then and 1967. Nor could any Jew pray at the Western Wall. After the Six Day War the Mount was proclaimed to be "once again in Jewish hands," until Moshe Dayan decided to reward the Arabs for destroying our synagogues and Jewish property in the Old City and gave the keys of the Temple Mount to the Arab Wakf. Thanks to Dr. Gabi Barkai for his common sense in stating that he is against any change in the status quo on the Temple Mount. Is there really need or reason for a 5th minaret there? LILA BRODSKY Jerusalem                                                                              Sir, - This encroachment will be perceived as an unpardonable outrage. Dr. Raief Najim of Jordan asserts that Israel's authorities have not voiced any objection to the proposed construction of a minaret on this prime Jewish holy site. He must not be aware of the public outcry it would elicit. If it is true that someone in our government has given a nod of approval, it will constitute a blatant example of legally permitted desecration.                                  AARON SWIRSKI, Architect Netanya              Sir, - There is no better expression of Israel's sovereignty and magnanimity than the reported decision to allow Jordan to build another minaret on the Temple Mount. It is, of course, for the government of Israel to decide who goes up to the Mount, and when. Much of the world forgets that when Muslims hold Friday Ramadan prayers on the Temple Mount, they do so with the protection and indulgence of the Israeli authorities. Your country is to be congratulated on its continued religious tolerance. IDA PRESS New York


And how important to Jordan is the Temple Mount?

King Abdullah also put on the top of all priorities safeguarding Jerusalem’s holy sites and historic Arab, Muslim and Christian identity. He added that: “To me personally and to all Jordanians, the Hashemite Custodianship of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites is a binding duty”. 


Anonymous said...

I guess the vaunted “status quo” is only important when it is enforced against the Jews. Perhaps the Jordanians can have their fifth minaret in exchange for allowing Jews to ascend the Temple Mount and pray wherever they wish - except perhaps within a 50 meter perimeter from the two mosques.

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