Temple Mount riot shows tough balancing act for Mahmoud Abbas
The Temple Mount riot in Jerusalem erupted after a Palestinian was killed by an Israeli security guard. Rising tensions are a challenge for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
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As the Monitor reported last week, East Jerusalem has emerged as a battleground between competing Israeli and Palestinian claims for sovereignty in a city central to both peoples. Israelis see Jerusalem as the heart of the Jewish nation, and crucial to its preservation, referring to it as their “undivided and eternal capital.” Palestinians see Jerusalem, considered Islam’s third-holiest city, as the only possible location for the capital of their future state.Skip to next paragraph
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In an August interview in Jerusalem, Silwan resident Fakhri Abu Diab told the Monitor that young men in the neighborhood were turning to violence because of frustration with Israeli policies. “[Israeli] behavior against us here in Silwan drives them to extremism,” he said. “Any police car that passes gets hit with stones.”
“My son is peeing in his pants,” said Mr. Hirsch, who recently received an Israeli demolition order for his home. “He’s demoralized and moody.”
Israel spends more than $10 million per year on private security
Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghassan Khatib blamed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies for Wednesday’s violence in Silwan. Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem, including Silwan, was never recognized by the international community, and Palestinians and their supporters view the application of Israeli law and policies there as part and parcel of an occupation.
“These are the trust-wrecking moves of Netanyahu, who is directly responsible to the crime in the Silwan neighborhood, and to all the crimes of the occupation regime,” Mr. Khatib was quoted saying in Ynet news. “The person who sends armed settlers to settle in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood, daily provoking the unarmed Palestinians, is paving the way for these crimes.”
The Israeli security guard who killed a Palestinian in Silwan was not part of the formal Israeli security establishment, but one of a number of armed guards hired by the state to protect Israeli Jews who are increasingly moving into sensitive areas around the Old City.
These enclaves, often conspicuously marked with giant Israeli flags, are generally guarded by locked gates and private security firms.
According to Israeli human rights group Ir Amim, Israel spends an annual average of 38 million shekels ($10 million) to protect about 2,000 Jews in East Jerusalem, with the Knesset approving an additional 15 million shekels ($4 million) in 2008 for new Jewish residents in the neighborhoods of Abu Dis and A-Tur, on the Mount of Olives.
After Wednesday’s riots in Silwan, the Israeli organization Peace Now called for an end to private security in East Jerusalem, saying that it’s a threat to peace.