Exploring the Strength of Ties to Jerusalem

Daniel Pipes, in Exploring the Strength of Ties to Jerusalem:

Historically, the religious standing of Jerusalem for Muslims waxed and waned six times through 14 centuries. British rule over the city in 1917-48 galvanized a passion for Jerusalem that had been absent during the 400 years of Ottoman control. Throughout the Jordanian control of the walled city in 1948-67, Arabs largely ignored it. Jordanian radio broadcast Friday prayers not from Al-Aqsa mosque but from a minor mosque in Amman. The PLO’s founding Covenant, which dates from 1964, contains no mention of Jerusalem.

Muslim interest in the city revived only with the Israeli conquest of Jerusalem in 1967. By 1990, the Islamic focus on Jerusalem reached such a surreal intensity that Palestinian Arabs denied the city’s sacred and historical importance to Jews.

The Camp David summit of July 2000 saw the Israeli government put forward its demands for sovereignty over parts of the Temple Mount. As Dennis Ross, an American diplomat present at the summit, put it, Arafat “never offered any substantive ideas, not once” at the talks. However, “He did offer one new idea, which was that the Temple didn’t exist in Jerusalem, that it was in Nablus.” With this, Jerusalem’s pseudo-history became formal Palestinian Authority policy.

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