March 17, 2007

Jordan quietly gaining Temple Mount control

Be berry, berry qwiet. Don't look now, but Jordan wants to resume its re-occupation of Jerusalem that it had previously occupied from 1948 to 1967, where no Muslim, Jew, or Christian was allowed to pray, with no peep of outrage from the international community. Yet, when Jews are in their indigenous homeland, and open up the Temple Mount so that Muslim, Jew and Christian could pray, the world is infuriated. Arab occupation of Jewish land = good. Jewish occupation of Jewish land = bad. That's Arabist logic for you. Not surprising from a culture whose greatest gift to civilization is their claim to inventing the number zero. From WND:

Jordan has been quietly purchasing real estate surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in hopes of gaining more control over the area accessing the holy site, according to Palestinian and Israeli officials.

The officials confirmed to WND the Jordanian Kingdom has been using shell companies during the past year to purchase several apartments and shops located at key peripheral sections of the Temple Mount.

The officials said Jordan also set up a commission to use the companies to petition mostly Arab landowners adjacent to eastern sections of the Temple Mount to sell their properties. They said profits from sales at any purchased shops would be reinvested to buy more real estate near the Mount and in eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods. The shell companies at times have presented themselves as acting on behalf of the Waqf, the Muslim custodians of the Temple Mount, WND has learned.

Sheik Azzam Khateeb, who was installed last month as the new manager of the Waqf, is known to be close to the Jordanian monarchy. The previous Waqf manager, Sheik Adnon Husseini, was loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party and had relations with Israel and some Jewish groups.

The Israeli and Palestinian officials said Jordan recently placed a bid to purchase Jerusalem's Intercontinental Hotel, which is situated on an important road that leads to an ancient cemetery on the Mount of Olives, adjacent to the Temple Mount. Informed sources tell WND the hotel is owned by groups representing the Israeli government and is leased every 10 years to a new company. The last lease was signed in 1997 and expires later this year. It was not immediately clear whether Jordan's bid was accepted.

The Mount of Olives is site of many biblical events and is considered important to Judaism and Christianity.

Real estate ownership in Jerusalem's Old City is widely considered a sensitive matter. Previous Israeli-Palestinian peace proposals tentatively divided parts of the city based on Jewish or Arab residence.

Jordan previously controlled eastern Jerusalem and the Temple Mount from 1948 until Israel liberated the territory in the 1967 Six Day War. During the period of Jordanian control, Jews were barred from the Western Wall and Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest sites, and hundreds of synagogues were destroyed. Jordan constructed a road to the Intercontinental Hotel that stretched across the Mount of Olives, bulldozing hundreds of Jewish gravestones.

Jordan the past few months has boosted its public profile on the Temple Mount. The appointment of Khateeb as the new Waqf manager for the Temple Mount was widely seen as a nod to Jordan.