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IACM 2023

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Historical, Cultural, and Religious Aspects of The Difficult Conversations Between Muslims and Jews: The Case of Temple Mount/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif As A Contested Site

Al Aqsa-Mosque is located in the site of al-Haram al-Sharif (known for Jews as Temple Mount), that has been for centuries a sacred shrine for Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians. In recent years, extremists on both sides have increasingly engaged in a struggle over the control of this site overshadowing the dialogues between moderate Jews and Muslims. Although cautious to avoid provocation, most Israeli governments have not succeeded in achieving a political settlement to the question of al-Haram al-Sharif and East-Jerusalem. On the contrary, most Israeli governments have proclaimed that Jerusalem will remain united, reflecting the views of the majority of Israeli-Jews that also consistently support Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount, and have endeavored to Judaize East-Jerusalem. Jewish neighborhoods have been built, thus extending greater Jerusalem into the West Bank. Since 1967, the Palestinian community in Jerusalem has also been gradually severed from its political and civil institutions. This paper discusses cultural, religious, ethical and historical aspects of the difficult conversations between Jews and Muslims on Temple Mount/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif as a contested site and their transitions between potential dialogues and violent clashes. Interactions and communication within and between extreme groups from both sides will be presented analyzed. An agreed settlement on East-Jerusalem and Temple Mount would likely enable Israel to improve its relations with the Arab and Muslim world, as well as with the international community. Ahmad Qurie, a senior PLO leader stated in 2010: “Jerusalem is a key to peace; it is also a key to war and perpetual conflict. There cannot be a solution to the problems of the region without first solving the problems of Jerusalem”. However, the tensions regarding Jerusalem and Temple Mount seem to be intensifying, while playing a central role in igniting and perpetuating the escalation of violent interactions between the sides.

Moshe Ma'oz
Truman Institute, Hebrew University of Jerusalem


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