The debate over Al Aqsa Mosque/Temple Mount is a debate over the future of Jerusalem
An Interfaith Statement of Concern
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem -- Psalm 122:6
Tensions in Jerusalem, which have been simmering since the attack on Mohammed Abu Khdeir this summer, are reaching a boiling point as violence breaks out in response to police repression and Israeli provocation over Haram al-Sharif (also known as the Temple Mount or Noble Sanctuary). As Christians and Jews, we stand with our Muslim partners in demanding the Israeli government respect the rights of Muslim worshippers at Al Aqsa Mosque and refrain from escalating the situation further.
Recent moves, including the Israeli announcement of the segregation of buses traveling to the West Bank, the announcement of construction in the illegal Jewish settlement of Ramat Shlomo across the Green line, settlers moving into the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan under the cover of darkness, and heavy-handed police repression that has resulted in arrests of over 1000 Palestinians since this summer are part of an escalation of policies designed to create facts on the ground for permanent Israeli control of, and minimum Palestinian presence in, Occupied East Jerusalem.
Calls such as the one made this week by Israeli housing minister Uri Ariel to build a third Temple on the site of Al Aqsa indicate the desire of Israeli leadership to further entrench Israeli control of the area. We know that the intent of the Jewish Temple Mount movement is not coexistence, but complete Jewish control. The Temple Mount Faithful, a militant right wing NGO leading the Jewish third Temple movement, says on its website that their long term goal is “liberating the Temple Mount from Arab (Islamic) occupation.” The conflict over the Temple Mount is not about prayer rights for Jews, but about religious and territorial domination over Jerusalem.
According to international law, the status of Jerusalem has yet to be determined. The U.S. State Department condemned recent moves, stating “we unequivocally oppose unilateral steps that prejudge the future of Jerusalem.” On Wednesday, Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel, a development that underscores the seriousness of the developing situation for regional stability and diplomacy.
Free access to Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock (the third holiest site for Muslims) is essential for Muslims throughout the world, and compromising that right is a damaging provocation. Freedom of worship is protected under international law, and U.S. law obligates countries that receive U.S. foreign aid to protect freedom of worship. We are watching the situation in Jerusalem closely as the debate over the status of the Al Aqsa mosque escalates, and we stand together as interfaith partners in praying for peace and justice in Jerusalem.
Israel-Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
Jewish Voice for Peace
Friends of Sabeel North America
United Methodist Kairos Response
List in formation