White House Defends Israel’s Temple Mount Closure Amid Distorted Claims from Arab States

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

JERUSALEM — In the face of highly distorted criticism against Israel from Arab states, the Trump White House on Saturday defended Israel’s security decision to temporarily close the Temple Mount to worshipers following Friday’s deadly Palestinian terrorist attack at the Mount.

Correcting distortions circulating in the Arab world, the White House Press Secretary’s office released a statement explaining Israel’s temporary Mount closure:

The attack forced the government of Israel to temporarily close the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif to conduct its investigation.  Israel has assured the world that it has no intention to alter the status of this holy site, a decision which the United States applauds and welcomes.  We urge all leaders and people of good faith to be understanding as this process proceeds and reaches its conclusion.

Continues the statement: “The people of the United States are heartbroken that terrorists brutally gunned down two Israeli police officers, and we extend our prayers and sympathies to the families of the victims.  The United States strongly condemns the terror attack.”

The White House stressed that “there must be zero tolerance for terrorism.  It is incompatible with achieving peace and we must condemn it in the strongest terms, defeat it, and eradicate it.”

The past twenty-four hours, major Arab state groups and Jordan each separately condemned Israel for temporarily closing the Temple Mount on Friday, but failed to mention the murderous Palestinian terrorist attack at the Mount that prompted Israel to enforce the closure for national security reasons.

The statement from Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit complained that the Jewish state’s “banning Palestinians from praying” will only work to “inflame extremism and escalate tension” in the Middle East.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which consists of 57 member states and calls itself the “collective voice of the Muslim world,” also slammed Israel for closing the Mount, claiming the move amounted to “a serious crime and a dangerous precedent.”

The Jordanian government, which administers to the mosques on the Mount, issued a statement reading, “The Jordanian government opposes any harm against Muslims in carrying out their religious worship in their holy places, freely and with no obstacles.”

None of the statements mentioned the reason for Israel’s rare temporary closure of the Temple Mount.  Mount preachers are notorious for using Friday night sermons to incite against Israel – especially with false claims of Israeli threats to the Al Aqsa Mosque – and there was fear here that the services could have been used to instigate further violence on the Mount following Friday’s terrorist attack at the site.

The statements further failed to mention that Israel is still investigating how weapons were smuggled on to the Mount. Visitors to the site must first pass through security checks with metal detector.

Jordan is a controlling force over the Waqf, the Mount’s Islamic custodians. Jordan’s statement further did not mention that three Waqf officials were reportedly detained in an Israeli police raid on Friday under suspicion that they aided the terrorist attack.

Following negative press coverage of Jordan’s statement in the Israeli media, Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Saturday night reportedly condemned the Mount violence during a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Two Israeli Border Police Officers were murdered and a third was wounded on Friday when three Palestinian terrorists opened fire at security forces near an entrance to the Temple Mount at the Lions Gate and then fled into the Mount complex.  The Palestinian assailants, reportedly carrying two rifles and a pistol, were pursued by Israeli forces and were shot and killed as they tried to escape toward the mosques on the Mount.

Friday’s attack occurred less than two weeks after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed an anti-Israel resolution declaring Jerusalem’s Old City and its ancient walls to be “occupied” sites and listed the areas as Palestinian heritage sites in “danger.”

And the terrorist attack took place one week after UNESCO passed another anti-Israel resolution regarding the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron – considered the second holiest site in Judaism after the Temple Mount – claiming the tomb is a “Palestinian” world heritage site in danger.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.


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