One small building in the most volatile spot in the world, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s walled Old City, threatens the stability of Jerusalem and beyond. The tense standoff between Israelis and Palestinians over the ancient, rundown building adjacent to Bab al-Rahma, the Gate of Mercy, could set off an explosion similar to the 2017 clashes that erupted after Israel placed metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount, holy to both Muslims and Jews.
At issue are the fragile status quo at the site, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s electoral constraints, Palestinian pride, the authority of the Jordanian-controlled Muslim Waqf that is the custodian of the site and Hamas, which has its fingers in every anti-Israel pie. The movement is taking advantage of the crisis, calling “Muslims everywhere” to defend with their bodies the holy mosque that the “Zionists” are trying to desecrate and shut down. Hamas enjoys the backing of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been seeking a foothold on the Temple Mount in recent years in defiance of Israel’s anger.