View of the Arab League building in Cairo, July 2008
Foreign Ministers of the Arab League have put off their meeting on the situation in Jerusalem scheduled for Wednesday (July 26) for a second time this week, postponing the gathering by a day.
Mahmoud Afifi, spokesperson for Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit, told reporters in a statement the postponement was made “to ensure the participation of the largest number of Arab ministers in the emergency meeting on the situation in Jerusalem.”
The meeting was initially scheduled for Monday (July 24), after Aboul Gheit warned Israel in a statement on Sunday that its government was “playing with fire and igniting a major crisis with the Arab and Islamic worlds.
“The past few days have proven that security considerations do not represent the real motive behind recent Israeli actions in the Old City and the vicinity of Al-Haram Al-Sharif,” he said, “and that everyone knows how deep and dangerous these plans have been for years to Judaize Jerusalem.”
Aboul Gheit added bluntly that for the Arab world, Jerusalem is a “red line that cannot be crossed, and Israel must stop its abuses against the Palestinians.”
It is important to point out that Israel – specifically Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – has repeatedly said that the status quo on the Temple Mount and in Jerusalem will not be disrupted. The metal detectors and upgraded security measures that were installed came in response to the lethal attack by three Arab terrorists who shot and killed two Israeli Police officers at the Temple Mount at point-blank range, with guns that were smuggled into the compound with help from an unnamed Muslim accomplice.
Metal detectors and similar security measures are also installed at mosques in Mecca, Istanbul and elsewhere across the Islamic world, as well as at the Western Wall and at all international airports. They are also installed at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, where both Jews and Muslims both go to pray, without any discussions whatsoever.
Nevertheless, Israel was strong-armed Monday by Jordan and the United States into removing the metal detectors in exchange for the release of an injured security officer from the Israeli Embassy in Amman, who shot and killed a Jordanian who stabbed him in the back and the chest on Sunday. A second Jordanian who was also present in the room died when he was hit by a stray bullet. Jordanian Police were determined to take the officer into custody for interrogation, despite his diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention, a fact they eventually recognized with persuasion from senior White House officials, the assistance of Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) director Nadav Argaman, and the encouragement of their own Hashemite Monarch, King Abdullah II himself.
The metal detectors had vanished by Tuesday morning, but within hours Israeli Arab Knesset members were crowing over their “victory” and bragging about their next goal: to “retake the ‘occupied’ Al Buraq Wall” – the Islamic name for the Western Wall, a piece of the retaining outside wall of the ancient Second Jewish Holy Temple of Jerusalem and one of the holiest sites in the Jewish faith.