Palestinians Credit Radicals for Temple Mount Victory

The Temple Mount crisis and violence has left the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah extremely frustrated. While the goal to restore the status quo on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif was achieved and the Israeli government indeed dismantled all security measures July 25 at the entrances to the Temple Mount, the credit for this in the Palestinian public opinion went to the radicals. The Palestinians feel that Hamas and the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, not President Mahmoud Abbas or King Abdullah of Jordan, are the ones who forced Israel to capitulate.

A senior Palestinian minister, an official with an extensive security background who is close to Abbas, told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that the Fatah leadership is currently extremely concerned over the nature of the Palestinian struggle in the eyes of the Palestinians and the Arab and Muslim world. The leadership fears that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security measures near Al-Aqsa Mosque added a religious layer to the national conflict.

The senior Palestinian official said, “The Israelis do not understand the enormous dangers involved in a religious war. It would bring Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran to the forefront of the armed struggle and endanger the pragmatic elements in the Palestinian leadership. If Israel contrives to make Al-Aqsa a cause celebre, it is doomed to confront later on Islamic fundamentalist neighbors that will not shy away from any military, terrorist or popular violence.”

The official warned that turning the Palestinian struggle into a religious one in nature would create an existential threat to the secular majority in the Palestinian leadership.