Turkish Flag over Temple Mount

The Turkish flag was raised over the Temple Mount last week following the flotilla clash. Police say the unprecedented flag raising was legal.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 5:44 PM

Turkish flag over Temple Mount
Turkish flag over Temple Mount
Israel news photo: PLS48.net

The Turkish flag was raised over the Temple Mount last week, following the flotilla clash while Jerusalem police banned Jews from holding the monthly march around the ancient gates of the holy site because of “security concerns.”

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told Israel National News that the unprecedented flag raising was legal. 

The pictures of the Turkish flag waving over the Temple Mount, where the First and Second Holy Temples were built and where the golden-domed Al-Aqsa mosque now stands, were published on the Turkish web site PLS48.net.

One blogger pointed out that the incident of a foreign flag over the site coincided with the furor over a project by Muslims to built a 13-story mosque near Ground Zero in New York, where Muslim terrorists attacked and destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center Sept. 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,500 people.

Although there is no law against raising flags over the site, the practice has been shunned in order to prevent flaring tempers from Muslims and Jews. The Israel flag was raised over the Temple Mount for a few hours on June 6, 1967, after all of Jerusalem was restored to Israel in the Six-Day War. It was taken down under orders of then-IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan.

Recently-retired Haaretz journalist Nadav Shragai wrote two years ago that researchers previously have suggested various and often conflicting ideas concerning flags over the Old City. He disclosed the previously unpublished conclusions of a study on a political agreement with the Arab world over the status of Jerusalem and its holy sites.

The study was written by Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies Ora Achimeir after a study by a team led by Israel Prize winner Prof. Ruth Lapidot.

“Achimeir is skeptical about the possibility of both sides to the conflict flying flags without restrictions and believes that 'the situation of hostility and competition between Israelis and Palestinians, which does not seem likely to dissipate in the near future, would lead to mass flying of flags that would turn the historic basin into a bedlam of flags and symbols.’” Shragai wrote.

He noted that during peace talks with Israel in 1978, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat suggested raising the Saudi Arabia flag over holy site in Jerusalem, but then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin fumed at the proposal. “There is no way that something of that kind will ever take place in Jerusalem," Begin declared. "The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Jerusalem. The Israelis also do not raise any flag there. If there is peace, the Arabs will be able to fly flags on every embassy that they open in Jerusalem."

Jimmy Carter, who then was President of the United States, warned that Sadat would not sign a peace treaty without the raising of the Saudi flag. He suggested that a flag would be flown only over the mosque and nowhere else over the Temple Mount, but Begin retorted, "Not on the Temple Mount," according to Shragai. “We are losing our conscience. Is it not enough that we have forbidden [Jews] to pray on the Temple Mount? We will not be able to agree to that also for too long a time. But the raising of a religious flag on the Temple Mount would be tantamount to recognition that it belongs to the Muslims."

Past peace plans that have been proposed by the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office have provided that foreign flags be considered "religious flags.” Even in the almost impossible likelihood that Muslims were to allow a Jewish flag over the Temple Mount, one would have to be invented because there is none.

The issue of flags in the area is so emotional that in 1984, the Muslim religious trust, known as the Waqf, demanded that the Jerusalem police unit on the Temple Mount remove an Israeli flag that was inside the commander’s room. The late Yosef Burg, who was Minister of Police at the time, ordered the flags be restored, an act that raised the ire of Muslims.