From a letter to the Jerusalem Post:
Everyone is talking about the ‘status quo on the Temple Mount’, but no one really knows to what status quo they are referring. Logically, the status quo to which we should all be referring is the one which existed between 1967 and 2000.
During those thirty three years, apart from modest clothing, not only were there no limits as to who could visit the Temple Mount, everyone who did visit, after paying an entrance fee to the Wakf and removing shoes, was able to visit the interior of the Dome of the Rock and of the El Aqsa Mosque, excluding during prayer time. Guides were not hindered when giving brief or lengthy explanations while inside.
No one objected if a Christian minister or priest conducted a quiet prayer session or read from the New Testament in a remote corner of the Temple Mount. Nor did anyone object if a guide held up a picture depicting the Jewish Temple, the first or the second, which stood on the Temple Mount before being destroyed by the Babylonians or the Romans.
The Palestinian Wakf changed the status to what it is today – limited visiting hours; no entry to the Dome of the Rock or El Aqsa; a ban, enforced by the Israeli police, on even carrying a bible in one’s bag on to the Temple Mount; absolutely no prayers, which includes moving one’s lips and, in some instances, insisting that the women in the group cover their heads.
Every Israeli guide who worked during the afore-mentioned period can confirm that that was the status quo and, if they are still working, can attest to the changes.
We should all be aspiring, nay demanding, a return to those halcyon days.
The writer is a registered guide and author of A Historical Tour of the Holy Land
Bit of an eye opener, don’t you think. Puts Palestinian protests in a whole new and uncomplimentary light. Again.