The Temple Mount has always been a point of Israeli-Arab conflagration, that backdrop to regular violent flare ups. In the past few months the tension has reached new heights, in part due to a growing number of Jewish Israelis ascending the Mount to pray — something forbidden by the long-standing agreement in place between the State of Israel and the Wakf, the Jordanian-run religious authorities who manage the site considered holy by both Jews and Muslims.
Once the domain of a sliver of national-religious Zionists, praying on the Temple Mount has gained popularity in recent years, with record numbers of Jews ascending on Jerusalem Day, May 29 — over 2,500.
As tensions were rising around Passover, we asked IJN readers for their view on the status quo.
Here’s what you said to question: “Do you support the Temple Mount status quo?”
- No, because it’s not working: 6%
- No, because it’s fundamentally wrong: 31%
- Yes, because changing risks peace with Jordan: 25%
- Yes, because it provides a modicum of security: 6%
- I’m not sure: 25%
These results mirror — not in raw percentage but in gap — those released last month by the Israel Democracy Institute, which show that 50% of Jewish Israelis support Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount, while 40% are against it. In our survey, 31% of you were wary of changing the status quo, while 37% of you want to see it changed.
According to the IDI survey, the most of those who support changing the status quo do so because they believe it would cement Israel’s sovereignty at the site. In our poll, most who support changing the status quo said it was “because it’s fundamentally wrong.” That shares some similarity with wanting to cement Jewish sovereignty, but it also speaks of the idea that Jews should be able to pray anywhere in the State of Israel, of which the Temple Mount is a part.
On the side of those not looking to change the status quo, security is the primary reason, both in the IDI survey as well as ours.
For now, the status quo is technically still in place, but for how long? Israeli Jews are testing the boundary more regularly, with more and more Jews praying there every holiday.
As President Biden heads to Israel as part of a Middle East tour in June, Jewish observers will be watching closely to see which issues arise. Biden has made clear that his administration strongly supports a two-state solution, and intends to reinvigorate relations with the Palestinian Authority. These positions will have repercussions for the situation at the Temple Mount. Palestinians may feel more secure in the Wakf’s keeping control, while some Israeli Jews may feel it important to project their connection to the site.
As always, the site will remain a hot spot, a bellwether for future Palestinian-Israeli and Jordanian-Israeli peace.
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