Temple Mount Preservation Act of 2001
Hats off to: U.S. Representatives Cantor, Smith of New Jersey, Berkley, Pitts, Kirk, Bachus, Ryun of Kansas, Pence, Souder, Crowley, Lewis of Kentucky, Weiner, Schrock, Groucci, Schaffer, Israel and Tiberi, who introduced a bill to prohibit assistance from being provided to the Palestinian Authority or its instrumentalities unless the President certifies that no excavation of the Temple Mount in Israel is being conducted.
The Congress makes the following findings.
1. The Temple Mount, located in the heart of Jerusalem, Israel, has great religious significance to the world’s three major monotheistic religions, and increasing violence, religious intolerance and archeological neglect threaten to destroy this sacred site.
2. According to the Jewish faith, the Temple Mount (Har ha-Bayit in Hebrew) is the location where Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, in the ultimate test of his commitment to God. The Temple Mount was also the site of the first and second Holy Temples, and it is a basic tenet of Judaism that it will be the site of the third Holy Temple.
3. According to Christianity, Jesus was dedicated on the Temple Mount in the Second Temple in accordance with the Law of Moses. He referred to the Biblical Temple as his Father’s House, and was tempted by the Devil at the pinnacle of the Temple Mount.
4. According to Islam, the Prophet Mohammad ascended into Heaven riding al-Burak from the edge of the Temple Mount (Haram al-Shaif in Arabic). Al-Aqsa Mosque is located on the site of the Prophet’s ascent and is the third holiest site in Islam. The Dome of the Rock was built over the Holiest Rock, considered in Muslim traditions as the Center or Core of the Universe.
5. In June 1967, Jerusalem once again became a united city under Israel’s sovereignty. Since that time, Israel has been legally responsible for the Temple Mount and has been respectful of the religious practices of Jews, Christians, and Muslims with regard to this site.
6. The Israeli Government elected to delegate the daily oversight of the Temple Mount to the Temple Mount Waqf (Religious Council), in tacit cooperation with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, because of the King’s capacity as the Custodian of Haram al-Sharif. In 1994, Jordan’s role as custodian of Muslim religious interests was codified in the Israeli-Jordanian Peace Treaty.
7. In the aftermath of the 1993 Oslo Accords, Yassir Arafat’s Palestinian Authority asserted preeminence on the Temple Mount through the subversion of the Waqf and by coercing the Jordan-affiliated officials and clergymen off the Temple Mount. Arafat personally nominated the virulently anti-Semitic and anti-American Mufti Ikrima Sabri as the Imam of al-Aqsa Mosque. In May 1998, Sabri declared that the Jews have no right to the Temple Mount.
8. In 1996, the Israeli Islamic Movement sponsored the expansion of the underground al-Marawani Mosque on the Temple Mount. The excavation conducted for this expansion extended beyond the original compound, and an ancient underground structure dating from the period of the Second Temple (circa 515 B.C. (B.C.E.) to 70 A.D. (C.E.)), known as the Western Hulda Gate passageway, was converted into a mosque.
9. In early 1998, the Waqf, controlled by the Palestinian Authority, began further excavation. A major underground mosque hall was inaugurated in August 1999 and an emergency exit was opened to a mosque located on the Temple Mount. The exit is 18,000 square feet in size and up to 36 feet deep, and thousands of tons of ancient fills from the site were dumped into the Kidron Valley. Archeologists have subsequently determined that artifacts dumped into the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount dated from the period of the First Temple (circa 1006 B.C. (B.C.E.) to 586 B.C. (B.C.E.)).
10. In mid 2000, Arafat deployed onto the Temple Mount armed and unarmed security personnel of Jibril Rajoub’s Preventive Security Forces in violation of numerous past agreements with Israel. Rajoub’s forces evicted the Waqf’s personnel and consolidated Arafat’s control and ability to wage the Intifada (‘uprising’) against Israel.
11. In February and March of 2001, an ancient arched structure built against the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount enclosure was razed by bulldozers in order to further enlarge the emergency gate of the new mosque at the Stables of Solomon.
12. In early May, Arafat ordered that the underground halls under the Temple Mount be unified into a single fortified space that would be both the largest mosque ever built on Haram al-Sharif and a springboard for the forthcoming Palestinian struggle for control of the Temple Mount. Given the hast and unsupervised nature of the ongoing excavation and construction work, there is great fear that the foundations of the two Holy Mosques will be severely damaged to the point of collapse.
13. The actions of Yassir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority threaten to eliminate al historical evidence of Jewish activity on the Temple Mount and serve to discredit Israeli claims of sovereignty over the Temple Mount.
14. The massive excavation and unsupervised destruction of artifacts discovered within the Temple Mount are undeniable affronts to the concepts of religious freedom and tolerance that must be respected in order to achieve and maintain peace in the Middle East. The destruction of the Temple Mount, which threatens to incite more violence, is destroying sacred artifacts and jeopardizing the ability of Americans to understand and promote their Judeo-Christian heritage. -