Roots of the "Status Quo"

Yisrael Medad,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Yisrael Medad
I am a resident of Shiloh, with my wife and children, and now grandchildren, since 1981, having come on Aliyah in 1970. I have served in a volunteer capacity as a Yesha Council spokesperson, twice a member of Amana's secretariat, Benjamin Regional Council plenum member and mayor of Shiloh. I was a parliamentary aide for Geula Cohen and two other MKs, an advisor to a Minister, vice-chairman and executive director of Israel's Media Watch and was Information and Content Resource coordinator for the Begin Heritage Center. I am now Deputy Editor of the critical edition in anthology of Jabotinsky's writing in English.

Everyone presumes the issue of a "status quo" as regards the Temple Mount began in June 1967 when Moshe Dayan and Chaim Herzog and David Farhi sat down with the Waqf officials and agreed that no overt Jewish act or symbol be permitted. No prayer, no archaeological excavations, no Rabbi Goren's Yeshiva, no recitation of Lamentations of Tisha B'Av, etc.

It's a bit more complicated as I once explained.

But to make it fairly simple, let's use this summary from a British document at the end of 1928, following the "Wailing Wall Incident" when a prayer partition was removed from the Western Wall courtyard, an act that eventually led to the 1929 murderous riots of August 1929.

It shows that the concept of a "status quo" in which Jews had no real rights to the Kotel was official policy and that, of course, led to a Temple Mount status quo within the same framework after the International Commission appointed by the British.

First, from the document:

and this

The report established the following:

1. That the ownership of the Wall as well as the possession of it and of those parts of its surroundings belong to the Moslems and that the Wall itself, as an integral part of Al-Haram-Esh-Sharif area, is Moslem property.

2. That in no stage of the examination of this matter did the Jewish side make any claim of ownership either to the Wailing Wall or to the Magharba Quarter or to any part of the areas now subjected to Israeli usurpation or so-called "Israeli development projects". The Commission stressed that the Jewish side, when making their claim, expressly stated that they "do not claim any property right to the Wall" (page 17 of the report, para. 3).

3. That no matter how the Jewish claim is construed, it does not exceed a claim for a privilege to visit the Wall and that this privilege has even resulted from Moslem tolerance.

4. That even the pavement and the area coincident with it were Moslem property and constituted Moslem Waqf by Afdal, the son of Saladin, in 1193 A.D., i.e. Moslem religious endowment owned in perpetuity by the Moslem community.

5. That the Magharba Quarter buildings, which were recently bulldozed by the Israeli authorities, were put up in 1320 A.D. "to serve as lodgings to Moroccan pilgrims" and were also made a Moslem Waqf by Abu Madian.

6. That the Moslems of Jerusalem were always alert to the Jewish attempt to exploit Moslem tolerance in order to claim at a later stage, a right to ownership. In 1911, the Guardian of the Abu Madian Waqf (Magharba Quarter) complained that the "Jews, contrary to usage, had placed chairs on the pavement, and he requested that `in order to avoid a future claim of ownership' the present state of affairs should be stopped". The Arab side argued that after stools would come benches, the benches would then become fixtures and before long the Jews would have established a legal claim to the site. As a direct result of the complaint, the British Administrative Council decided that it was not permissible to place any article on the pavement that could "be considered as indications of ownership".

7. That the British Government stated to Parliament in the White Paper of November 1928 that the Western or Wailing Wall "is legally the absolute property of the Moslem Community and the strip of pavement facing it is Waqf property, as is shown by documents preserved by the Guardian of the Waqf".

And the relevant conclusions from that report which impact until today vis-a-vis the concept of a "status quo":

...Furthermore, in conformity with practice, each Jewish worshipper shall be entitled to bring a prayer-mat with him or her on the two holy days of the New Year festival and on the Day of Atonement.

It forms a part of the Jewish service in the Synagogue to blow the Shofar (ram's horn) on New Year's Day and on the Day of Atonement and the Jews have claimed the right on the said occasions to carry out this ceremony of theirs in front of the Wall too.

That is a claim that has not been recognised in the present administrative regulations or otherwise in actual practice, and the Commission has not found any sufficient reason for assenting to it.

Save as above provided, it shall not be permissible to bring any appurtenances of worship to the Wall...

...(5)    The Jews shall not be permitted to blow the ram's horn (Shofar) near the Wall nor cause any other disturbance to the Moslems that is avoidable; the Moslems on the other hand shall not be permitted to carry out the Zikr ceremony close to the Pavement during the progress of the Jewish devotions or to cause annoyance to the Jews in any other way

Is this now clear?