In response to Israel’s construction plans in greater Jerusalem, a senior Hamas leader, Ahmed Halabiyeh, director of the Jerusalem Department within Hamas, has called for a Third Intifada against Israel and the resumption of suicide bombings, the Jerusalem Post has reported. He proclaimed that Israel is spreading “the cancer of settlements to all parts of Jerusalem.” Halabiyeh asserted that Israel is waging a “fierce onslaught on Jerusalem and accelerating plans to Judaize the city geographically and demographically.”

He asserted this despite the fact that Jerusalem has already had a Jewish majority since the 1840’s and no one is forcing the Arab population to go any where. Furthermore, Halabiyeh stated this even though many of the proposed new Jewish homes in East Jerusalem are to be built inside existing Jewish neighborhoods or in open areas where no one is presently living which are to remain part of Israel under any future peace agreement. For example, Gilo is already a Jewish neighborhood; while in Givat HaMatos, some two dozen Jewish and Palestinian families live there in run-down trailers. Both areas, as part of greater Jerusalem, will never be part of any Palestinian state.

But as if that were not bad enough, Halabiyeh falsely accused Israel of working to undermine the foundations of the Al Aqsa Mosque in order to bring about its collapse so it can be replaced by a Jewish Third Temple. He declared that Arabs should mobilize to “liberate Jerusalem, the Aqsa Mosque, and Palestine” and that Palestinians should engage in all sorts of “resistance” including “martyrdom operations in the heart of Israel” as part of this “Third Intifada” to “save the Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem.”

Halabiyeh does not mention how in reality it is the Arab side which is systematically working to destroy the evidence proving that a Jewish Temple used to exist underneath the Al Aqsa Mosque, even though Muslim sources prior to Israel’s establishment recognized its existence. He also deliberately attempts to deceive Palestinians into falsely thinking that Israel is preventing Muslims from worshiping their faith freely when in fact Israel has worked very hard to provide Jews, Christians and Muslims who live in Jerusalem or who are tourists freedom of worship in her united capital city, a basic human right which did not exist when the Jordanians occupied East Jerusalem.

In fact, when the Jordanians controlled East Jerusalem, Jews who had lived in Jerusalem’s Old City for centuries were expelled; Jews were not given the right to pray at the Western Wall; and Jewish grave stones and synagogues were desecrated or destroyed. Some historic Jewish gravestones dating back centuries were even used to build latrines. The Christians did not have it much better under Jordanian rule; many were compelled to flee, Christians were prevented from buying land or expanding their churches and new Christian schools could not be built. Furthermore, what is now a beautiful tourist attraction, the Old City of Jerusalem, was a slum under Jordanian rule.

Given this history, even if one puts the fact that Jerusalem is the holiest city in Judaism and has been the center of the Jewish world for over 3,000 years aside, it should be understandable why Jews are apprehensive about relinquishing control over Jerusalem. This is especially the case when the Palestinians have demonstrated time and again that they respect Jewish and Christian holy sites just about as much as the Jordanians did, as demonstrated by Palestinians storming the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and holding 200 Christian monks and other Palestinian visitors to the church hostage; by Palestinians torching Joseph’s Tomb, Judaism’s third holiest site; by the Muslim Waqf transforming Solomon’s Stables into a mosque and destroying Jewish antiquities in the process, etc. Calls for a Third Intifada and for more suicide bombings do nothing but reinforce the already existing belief that the Palestinians should not control any part of greater Jerusalem.

By Rachel Avraham