Israeli security forces are gearing up for possible rioting on the Temple Mount during Friday prayers, amid calls for demonstrations on the holy site to protest the Trump administration’s plans to release its much-anticipated Middle East peace plan next week.
The Palestinian Authority and Hamas, both of which have rejected the peace plan - which has been dubbed the “Deal of the Century” - even before its release, called on Muslims to gather on the Temple Mount Friday to demonstrate opposition to the peace plan.
Unconfirmed reports claim that the deal will require the Palestinian Authority to recognize all of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, and would allow Israel to apply sovereignty to some 30% of Judea and Samaria, leaving the remaining 70% for the formation of a Palestinian state.
After the US signaled it would release the plan next week, and that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz had been invited to the White House next Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority castigated the US and declared its “total opposition” to the peace plan.
Fearing an Arab backlash against the impending release of the peace plan and concerned that the mass gatherings planned on the Temple Mount could turn violent, Israeli police have made special preparations for this Friday’s prayer services.
On Thursday, dozens of radical Muslim activists were barred from the Temple Mount, with administrative restraining orders distancing more than 30 activists from the holy site for periods ranging from several days to six months, the PA’s WAFA reported.
On Friday, according to the WAFA report, Israeli police carried out raids in eastern Jerusalem, targeting additional activists ahead of Friday afternoon prayers.
Last Friday, Muslim worshippers gathered on the Mount rioted, leaving five rioters injured and three arrested.
Officials of the Waqf – the Islamic trust which manages the Temple Mount – had called on Muslims to ‘defend’ the holy site, citing the growing number of Jews visiting the Mount.