Two weeks ago, Palestinians rioted on the Temple Mount, breaking into an area adjacent to Sha’ar HaRachamim (Gate of Mercy, also known as the Golden Gate) in the Temple Mount compound. The site was locked 16 years ago by court order after it was used as a meeting place for a Hamas-affiliated organization.
The Israeli police have allowed Muslim prayers at the site and have thus far avoided confrontations. The Waqf (Muslim authority) requested permission from the Israeli police to bring in materials to convert the site to a Mosque and their request has not been rejected.
The police issued restraining orders against Waqf guards and Palestinian activists, including the Waqf’s head, Sheikh Abdel-Azeem Salhab, to prevent them from reaching the site.
An Israeli delegation traveled to Jordan last Thursday to discuss a solution with the government. After the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel handed administration of the site back to the Waqf (Muslim authority) under Jordanian custodianship, while maintaining Israeli security control. At the time, there was one Mosque on the Temple Mount but three more have been established since then without Israeli permission.
Israel wants the renovations at Sha’ar HaRachamim to take place alongside archaeologists from Israel’s Antiquities Authority but the Jordanians rejected this condition. Israeli media reported that Jordan offered that the site be closed for long-term renovations. The Israeli delegation agreed to this plan but insisted it must first be closed without renovations taking place, as a statement of Israeli authority. This disagreement reportedly led to talks breaking down.
Haaretz reported that a meeting between the head of the Waqf and the Israel Police commander for the Jerusalem District was canceled after the Waqf official received threats from extremist Palestinians who accused him of capitulating to Israel.
Arutz Sheva, a Hebrew language news site, reported on Friday that a compromise had been reached between Israel and Jordan over the situation at the Sha’ar HaRachamim Arutz Sheva cited the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper which claimed that the Israeli government agreed to allow the Waqf (Muslim authority) to bring in building materials in order to renovate the site and convert it into a mosque. According to the report, the renovation will be delayed for the time being until calm is restored without a date being set for its commencement.
A Jordanian source told Asharq al-Awsat that this is the best solution at this point in time, which will prevent unnecessary bloodshed.
Arutz Sheva reported on Sunday that negotiations between the Israeli police, the Israeli National Security Council, and the Waqf had agreed that leaks in the roof would be renovated by the Waqf in cooperation with Israeli police and archaeologists. After the renovation, the Waqf will be allowed to use the building for classes, twice a month.
In the wake of the failed talks, King Abdullah of Jordan traveled to the U.S. to meet with members of Congress. According to the Jordan News Agency, Abdullah is looking to “bolster the strategic partnership between Jordan and the United States,” and will also discuss the “latest regional developments, especially those connected to the Palestinian cause.”
According to Jewish tradition, the Messiah will arrive at the Temple Mount via the Sha’ar HaRachamim.