Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Palestine Papers, the Old City of Jerusalem, and The Temple Mount

Yesterday, in the Toronto Star, I was able to find some references to the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, and what the Palestine Papers, recently released by Al-Jazeera television station documenting ten years of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, had to say about them.  These are the sites that are of most interest to Christians and our belief of what lies ahead in the future, and possibly, the 'end times' as some of us understand them.   Here's what I found.

On the Old City: The Palestinian negotiators reportedly relinquished any Palestinian claim to the Old City's Jewish and Armenian quarters.  Up to that point, Palestinians had wanted the Old City reverted to Palestinian sovereignty since Israel only captured it in 1967, 44 years ago.

On the most sacred part of the Old City, the Temple Mount (as the Jews know it):  This part is known as Haram al-Sharif to the Arabs.  According to the Toronto Star writing about the Palestine Papers, "Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat even went so far as to offer a creative solution to its status.  He proposed that a joint body made up of the Palestinians, Israel, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan would administer the site until Israel and the Palestinians could work out a permanent arrangement."  These offers were made in 2008-09 while Ehud Olmert was Israel's PM.  And Erekat is recorded as having told the Israelis: "This is the first time in Palestinian-Israeli history in which such a suggestion is officially made."  Now, of course, Erekat denies making that statement and arguing that the proposal actually came from Israel, not the Palestinians.

What exactly are the Palestine Papers?  Wikipedia says this:  "Thousands of pages of diplomatic correspondence detailing the inner workings of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, documents—memos, e-mails, maps, minutes from private meetings, accounts of high level exchanges, strategy papers and even power point presentations—date from 1999 to 2010."  So you can judge who has it right and who has it wrong.  More of them are still awaiting release.

But here's the interesting part.  There is no way that the proposal regarding the Temple Mount works for the Israelis.  First of all, they want it.  Many are ready to rebuilt a temple on the site to replace the last one that was there before.  Secondly, the idea of having so many Arab countries be involved in administering the property is unacceptable.  Thirdly, since this would be a temporary arrangement, the chances of ever getting a permanent one would be as slim as getting a temporary one, if not less.

What should be noted, however, is what the parties were discussing as a possible solution, and knowing where at least one of them stood (since the content of the proposal was not in dispute, only the source).   Again, all of which leads me to believe, there will not be peace in Israel or the Middle East any time soon.

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