Renouncing Jewish right for Mount paves way to losing right for entire land
by Efraim Halevy
The many statements recently issued by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas included one where he expressed his willingness to let Israel maintain its control over Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall. Various Palestinian spokespeople and Knesset Member Dr. Ahmed Tibi were quick to stress that this willingness comes with an unequivocal Palestinian position demanding full, exclusive sovereignty over the Temple Mount.
Whatever Israel's position on other territorial issues, we must warn against such a 'deal" with the Palestinians. Moreover, during negotiations with the Palestinians in the framework of the Geneva Accord, they fought for ensuring that the term 'Kotel" refer only to part of the Western Wall – the small section where Jews pray today. Hence, Abbas' words only refer to the limited plaza at the Wailing Wall and not to the entire Western Wall, let alone the Kotel tunnels.
Israel's demand for the Western Wall is not premised on the Kotel being a holy Jewish site in and of itself. The demand is premised on the Kotel being a remnant of our Temple. Anyone recognizing our right for the Western Wall must recognize the fact that the Kotel is part of a structure or several structures that Jews have no less attachment to than the Muslims. One who has no right for the structure has no right for any wall of that structure.
The 2000 Camp David talks failed, among other reasons, because Yasser Arafat argued that Israel had no right whatsoever to Temple Mount. He rejected any historical attachment between the Israel of the First and Second Temple era and the site. Prime Minister Ehud Barak rejected this approach out of hand, and rightfully so. One who agrees to repudiate Israel's attachment to Temple Mount opens the door for denying the Jewish people any right for any part of the Land of Israel. Hence, Israel's firm stance in respect to this attachment is more vital and fateful than any struggle for any Judea and Samaria community.
Avoid slightest concession
No benefit will be gained today by attempting to understand why all past Israeli governments accepted the methodical Muslim destruction of our Temple's remnants undertaken mostly deep within Temple Mount ever since Jerusalem's liberation in 1967. Future researchers into Israel's history will likely review documents that recorded Israeli discussions and decisions that allowed Temple Mount's Muslim authorities and Arab Israelis to boost their hold at the site.
What remains for us now, after the methodical acts of destruction in Solomon's Stables and other sections of the site, is to firmly insist on our equal sovereign rights for Temple Mount. Even the slightest concession will mark the beginning of the countdown on any Jewish right for this land.
How sad it is to recall Mordechai Gur's touching call "Temple Mount is in our hands," uttered in the wake of bitter battles and such high casualty toll. The Mount remained in our hands for several hours only, and future generations will look into the reasons for handing it over to our enemies immediately after the victory, without getting anything in return and without eliciting any understanding for our right to the site. Indeed, people work in mysterious ways.