Riots Around the Temple Mount: Another Escalation of the Arab-Israeli Conflict?

On July 21 the Israeli police significantly strengthened security measures in the Temple Mount area of the Old City of Jerusalem, which provoked large-scale protests by the local Arab-Muslim community. In response, on July 23, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared the suspension of contacts with Israel "at all levels." Because of the unrest, the Israeli government decided to remove the metal detectors at the entrances to the Temple Mount.

The problem is that the situation may get out of control, and all the parties involved would like to avoid this, Zvi Magen, researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies of Tel-Aviv and  former Israeli ambassador to Russia, told

"No one needs mass demonstrations of various strata of the population or the aggressive behavior of interested groups. Now the parties are trying to find some way out, so that, as they say in Russia, "both the wolf fed, and the lamb intact," the Israeli expert said. According to him, there are technical questions concerning the metal detectors, which allegedly irritate the population.

"In fact, all this has nothing to do with the population." Someone is pressing on this issue in order to achieve mass protests. It's unlikely that everything will calm down in the next one or two days, when everyone is trying to blame each other."

According to Zvi Magen, the situation may not be resolved without outside interference. To a certain extent, the Israelis hope for the assistance of Americans, Egyptians, and Saudis, who can reassure the indignant activists.

Apart from the unrest around the Temple Mount, the problem with Jordan emerged, the expert said. "There is information that our diplomatic mission was taken hostage, there was a terrorist attack that ended tragically, there are victims. Disagreements and tensions are continuing, and, in my opinion, the simplest way out of the current conflict situation may be a joint search for solutions with the Jordanian partners. I think it will be found.  At the moment, everyone is acting from tough positions to get more image dividends," Zvi Magen said.

As for the statement of the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas about the suspension of contacts with Israel "at all levels", it deserves no attention, the Israeli expert said.

"This is an empty statement, after all, they are supported and kept by the Israeli administration, will they refuse it? God forbid, they are taking such a position to show that they have a tough leader. In fact, such a position will be forgotten in a couple of days, as well as the situation around the Temple Mount, when it will be settled, " Zvi Magen concluded.

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