Of the cities within Israeli Control; Hevron, Jericho, Safed (Tzfat), Shiloh, Bethel and Akko are amongst the oldest. Shiloh and Bethel are most notable as locations for the Tabernacle before it was brought to rest in Jerusalem by King David. Hevron is notable as the first capital city of the Israelite Tribes before King David made Jerusalem the capital city around 1100 BCE to 1200 BCE depending on your source (yes we understand some claim different dates and others claim Kings David and Solomon were myths and the Hebrew Bible belongs next to Aesop’s Fables and the Tales of the Brothers Grimm in the fiction and moral tales aisle, but we tend to ignore such tripe). Safed was considered one of the four holy cities along with the aforementioned Jerusalem and Hebron as well as the later addition of the Roman city of Tiberius. Tiberius was built by the Romans in a location that made it visible from much of the entirety of the Israelites civilization and was built with one simple and overriding purpose, to dazzle, impress and force the will of Rome through visualizing Roman superiority and greatness through the magnificence of the city of Tiberius, and it worked except the Hebrews (Jews) simply included it as one of their own taking away the Roman attributes and simply thanking the Romans for constructing what Hashem demanded of the Romans to do for the Hebrews. This leaves Akko which presents an interesting set of tales. It need be mentioned that Akko is considered to be the oldest city in all of the area which became Israel by quite a number of years. Thus let us compare the two oldest cities and Jerusalem and their respective status-quo.
Jericho is the city which guards the gateway to the Holy Lands. It is centered in the Jordan River Valley and guards the largest of the passes through the Judean hills and as such must be taken if one expects to supply their armies. Oddly enough, battles for Jericho, other than the one time its walls came tumbling down, are rather absent from much of history despite it being taken by many conquerors including at least one Islamic Leader. Once any group is established in the areas of the Holy Land, they are able to use multiple trade routes; it is largely necessary to take Jericho if one is attacking from the east or south as from the south one is more likely to circle around the Negev Desert and attack crossing the Jordan River necessitating taking Jericho. Should any of these invasions succeed, then their conquest is noted crowned by their conquest of Jerusalem, not Jericho. Jerusalem and Akko are the two main gems in the crown of those wishing to conquer the holy lands simply because Jerusalem was the Capital City of Kings David and Solomon which made it the notable city in the entire area. Akko is the oldest city even older than all the aforementioned especially Jerusalem and older than Beersheba, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gaza City and any other as Akko is claimed to be approximately five-thousand-years old. It is worth reviewing Akko, the great port city of its age, as it has a protected port in the small bay guarded by the city as well as a seaward port which can handle deep draft vessels meaning Akko could be a port for any ships or smaller boats for across the sea and local trade with more natural docking berths than even Alexandria, especially deeper draft berths. This made Akko as important as Jerusalem to controlling the Holy Lands.
So let us compare Akko and Jerusalem. Before the Hebrews, the Israelites, the area of Canaan was ruled by city-states of which Akko was one of the oldest and displayed the greatest of walls. The walls of Akko would only be challenged by the walls of Jerusalem herself. The main powers of the early history, almost prehistory, were the Hittites and the Egyptians who basically would fight one another for control over the Holy Lands and even the Sinai Peninsula when Egypt was weakest. These two would mostly fight in the open and whichever side won the day, that would be the greater power which the area city-states would pledge allegiance. On occasion the ruling force might demand additional troops from the cities under their control and whether they were given forces who fought well, they were probably considered the preferred and stronger of the two superpowers fighting to control the region. Akko being located farther north than Jerusalem was often not as likely of being contested and thus remained largely under Hittite rule with only occasional Egyptian rule; this was a more secure and established city with a steady rule while Jerusalem was often under contention, siege, and often would change hands sometimes for days or weeks and at other times for some years. The introduction of the Hebrews, the Israelites, around the year 1525 BCE started their exodus which led to their conquest of the Holy Lands starting roughly sometime in the fourteenth century BCE. Akko already had some history but much of that was Hittite with brief periods under other rulers. There is one individual’s conquests which depict the special difference which Akko held and why for many years during the Crusades remained in Crusader control despite the rest of the area falling to the Muslims. Jerusalem during these times changed hands which led to many individual sweeps which tried to purge the non-believers from Jerusalem. The Crusaders murdered Muslims and the Islamic rulers purged Christians and both sides had one concept in common, both purged Jerusalem of its Jews yet somehow some number of Jews always survived. The conquest of the region by Napoleon was revealing in that he controlled Jerusalem but despite two separate assaults on the walls of Akko, Napoleon was unable to breach the walls and thus Akko never fell to Napoleon. What are we trying to convey? Namely that of all the cities of the Holy Lands, Jerusalem was the most conquered, most divided, and the city with the least amount of a status-quo as the changing of hands led to different rules with each change of rulers. Simply, the status-quo of Jerusalem is about as fluid as any city in all of recorded history and even before.
But the talk now is about the recent status-quo of Jerusalem that we are referencing when we talk about status-quo and mostly about the status-quo of the Old City and the Temple Mount even more particularly. The reason that the Muslims specify the Old City and Temple Mount is because Western Jerusalem has been under Israeli rule and was the Capital City for Israel from May 15, 1948, uninterrupted to this day and thus it actually has a status-quo, Israeli rule under Israeli law with Israel responsible for its security and the Jewish State never lost control of this area resulting from the invasion by much of the Arab world the very first day of Israeli existence with the intent of a genocidal conquest slaughtering every Jew in the lands. At dawn of May 15, 1948, Israel legally was the ruling force of all the lands west of the Jordan River to the eastern border of the Mediterranean Sea. The Arab forces had already infiltrated the easternmost lands by stationing troops and special forces inside most of the Arab cities, towns, and other communities with the intent of breaking any lines of communications, reinforcements and resupply thus weakening the Israeli defenses. These defenses were already in disarray with the many different forces spread between the Haganah, Irgun, Sternists, Palmach, Lehi, Mahal (foreign volunteers such as Colonel David Daniel “Mickey” Marcus played by Kirk Douglas in the movie Cast a Giant Shadow) and various individual forces made up mostly of community guards and volunteers from farmers to refugees straight fresh from the boats from the numerous detainment camps which the British used to keep the vast majority of Jews trying to reach the Holy Lands after World War II. The result of this war left Jerusalem split in half with the eastern half which included the entirety of the Old City and Temple Mount in Jordanian hands and the western parts of Jerusalem in Israeli hands. The Jewish residents of the Old City were forced from their homes by the Jordanians or shot during the fighting simply because they were Jews in Arab controlled areas. This situation led to two completely separate status quos for the divided city of Jerusalem.
The following history of the city of Jerusalem for the nineteen years from May 15, 1948, through June 7, 1967, when Israel liberated the whole remainder of Jerusalem during the Six Day War after Jordan attacked on the second day of the war despite Israeli pleas that they not join the losing efforts of Syria and Egypt. Jordan chose to believe the reports by Syrian and Egyptian broadcasts that they were closing on Tel Aviv and destroying the Israeli forces on every front. The reality was quite the opposite as Israel not only was not losing but had liberated Gaza and taken the Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula plus had advanced towards Damascus with the Syrian forces being routed just as were the Egyptians. After Jordan joined the war, they were forced from their occupation, illegal occupation, of Judea and Samaria with Israel regaining the lands lost in 1948 during the war against the Arab world intent on destroying the Jewish State. During those nineteen years the eastern parts of Jerusalem, the parts occupied by Jordan, remained remarkably the same with minimal amounts of additional building beyond that necessitated by increases in population. That was a real status quo with almost nothing changed. On the western parts of Jerusalem under Israeli control the city was built up and modernized with an entire new city center and whole entire suburbs with new roads, schools, synagogues, homes, businesses and gained an entire new look. There is a whole new Jerusalem today than there was in 1967, let alone in 1948 or in the year 500 or back in 1100 BCE when King David conquered the city gaining access through the waterway from the spring outside the city to the central cistern from where his small raiding party opened the city gates and his troops poured in before dawn. The question kind of has to be what status quo as Jerusalem has been a city of constant change and change is the enemy of status quo.
We have spoken on the supposed status quo in Jerusalem before which can be found as the first seven links from these search results but let us speak of it once more. What the Palestinian Arabs as well as the Jordanians and much of the United Nations wish for Israel to do when they demand we keep the status quo in Jerusalem is to enforce the occupation rules when Jordan illegally occupied half of Jerusalem. Further, they are demanding that Israel also enforce the Jordanian rules in all of the lands which the Jordanians illegally for the nineteen years between May 15, 1948 and June 7, 1967 which would prevent Jews from even visiting areas of Judea and Samaria, let alone reside there. This would continue to forbid Jews from returning to their actual homes which they still retain the deeds to despite the fact that Israel has liberated those homes. They would forbid the Jews whose homes are in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem from returning to these homes and forbid Israel from restoring the Synagogues destroyed by the Jordanians simply because they could not tolerate a Jewish construction in the area while they controlled it, even illegally occupying the area. This is the status quo the world, or at least much of it, demand of Israel which comes down to one simple concept, they wish to deny Jews equal rights in areas within Israel. That is blatant anti-Semitism and that is not an enforceable or even allowable status quo no matter what anybody wishes to claim. Israel, in theory, has freedom of religion yet those demanding the retaining of the status quo are demanding that Israel suspend freedom of religion and allow only Muslims to pray on the Temple Mount and only Islam be observed. This is true even for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which would be an interesting question to pose as it is on the Temple Mount, surely they can hold services. Well, the priests inside may pray but they may not hold any public services as that would break the iron law of status quo. There has been a small concession in the status quo, on the days when the Islamic Waqf decides and only on the hours granted, people other than Muslims may visit the Temple Mount but they are not permitted to enter the Mosques nor may anybody offer even a suspected whim of praying. Even a Buddhist or Taoists or Native American would not be permitted to utter a solemn sound as that would destroy the status quo and the purity of Islam. But is this really the actual status quo or a new demand which is not new as the status quo has been a moving line where the rules have changed as the Islamic forces rise in their perception of their power while the Western World appears to be wilting. The truth is fascinating.
Back after the Six Say War and again after the Yom Kippur War when the Islamic forces were thwarted by Israel and handed them a crushing defeat the rules were very different. The Waqf said little if anything and the Temple Mount was open most of the time only closed on Muslim Holy Days and this was at a decision made by the Israelis out of respect. Prayer was not an issue and the Waqf rarely placed watchers on the Temple Mount as there would have been little for them to enforce. Entrance to the Mosques was limited but permission was given for those requesting a tour which was usually guided with the holiest areas off the tour though often visible from an adjoining area. These rules were the status quo for much of the time until the start of the First Intifada in the late 1980’s and the Oslo Accords in September of 1993. Then with each concession by Israel in order to persuade, read bribe, Yasser Arafat and then Mahmoud Abbas, read Yasser Arafat in a suit, the Waqf gained in strength and the status quo slowly but inexorably moved to be more and more strict. This progression would seem to have reached its end but there is still room to allow only Muslims onto the Temple Mount and all others banned from the site even to the point of demanding the priests from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre be removed from their posts and then the turning of the church into yet one more Mosque. Think that might be something they would not do, then you need to look into the history of the Hagia Sophia which was first made into a Mosque after the conquest of Constantinople, where even the name of the city itself was changed to Istanbul, and in recent times has been changed into a museum which depicts both of its histories. Do not hold your breath praying this becomes the status quo for that former greatest cathedral in all Christendom as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been slowly moving Turkey towards becoming an Islamic theocracy aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood; so the Hagia Sophia Museum may be headed for a new future back to being a mosque.
As the status quo of the Temple Mount has been altered with time and feelings of gaining the upper hand and becoming powerful while Israel appears to have weakened in protecting any Jewish rights to the Temple Mount even to not preventing the destruction of countless artifacts from the First and Second Temples which the Waqf had claimed to be installing drainage ditches in order to dig down and destroy every artifact they found and the Israeli Antiquities Authority protested but was overruled by the Waqf claiming their unopposable Islamic right to any action they chose. The reality is that the Waqf only retains any authority for as long as Israel is willing to tolerate their actions. Let me repeat that, for as long as Israel tolerates their actions. Why are they still here and not back in Jordan where they belong? Prime Minister Netanyahu that question is for you. Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked, why is Israel not applying our authority over the Temple Mount as an integral part of our Capital City of Jerusalem and location of the holiest ground in the Jewish faith? We do not expect any of the myriad of Israeli officers, who have the authority to remove the Waqf from all of Israel and send them back to Jordan which is the nation responsible for choosing these officers, to perform their duty as currently demanded by a majority of the Israeli population. What we would expect is for Israel to finally get sick and tired of the world demanding that we shrink from our rightful claims and legal ownership under International Law through an entire series of treaties and other legal rights granted through the League of Nations and enforceable under the Charter of the United Nations that all the land west of the Jordan River belongs to Israel. We gave away Gaza under what became obviously an on again off again promise which was given by United States President Bush and not enforced by President Obama and overruled by the United Nations with Security Council Resolution 2334 which being under Chapter Six is not enforceable by military action or economic embargo by the United Nations itself and contrary to the United Nations Charter (which actually negates the entirety of Resolution 2334) and apparently will be honored by President Trump. Gaza will remain in the hands of Hamas which will be left to Egypt to either tolerate or retake control over the area as they had before the Six Day War. Israel has obviously taken a mow-the-grass attitude where whenever Hamas decides to attack at a level no longer tolerable by the Israeli public, then they will destroy Hamas and Islamic Jihad from being capable of continuing their destruction and aggressions against Israel. As far as Hamas and their aiding the terrorist forces in the Sinai Peninsula, as that harms Egypt far more than Israel, this problem will be left up to Egypt to address. Should this become the situation harming Israel, they would work with Egypt on resolving who would take the appropriate actions or what combined actions are required. But regarding the areas of Judea and Samaria, Israel has every right to resolve all aspects of the conflict in whatever means Israel might decide is to Israel’s best advantage. The rules which gives Israel dominion over the lands west of the Jordan River places an obligation to provide religious, social, ownership of property, and all rights with the exception of political rights. This allows that Israel treat any and all Arabs residing in Judea and Samaria as legal resident aliens which would allow them everything they currently have except they would not be permitted to vote in elections. Israel would likely allow them to continue self-rule in areas where they are the majority population at the time of the reestablishment of Israeli governance. This could be any date or time even ten minutes from now, the only requirement would be for Prime Minister Netanyahu making an announcement of such a decision, nothing more.
This is another one of those eventualities which will happen, it is simply a matter of when but we would advise not holding one’s breathe. The world will make a huge noise and protest as loudly as they are capable with the United Nations General Assembly passing more resolutions against Israel than usual. Many of the Arabs residing in Judea and Samaria would initially believe that they would be thrown from their homes and lose their businesses fearing the worst and expecting Israel to act as they had acted when they illegally occupied these lands and evicted or murdered every Jew residing within the region. Their reaction would be similar to any Japanese soldier captured by the allies in World War II as they had been told that they should expect to be tortured just as the Japanese did to the allied prisoners they captured. Much to the Japanese surprise they were treated well and with respect and much to the Arab’s surprise the Israelis would grant them more rights while allowing them to continue residing on their land and retaining most of their rights. They already do not vote in Israeli elections and that would remain the same. Israel would likely give them an offer to resettle outside of Israel with an incentive to aid their relocation and payment for the property they currently own as if they had sold it and once they took such a deal they would not be permitted to return with any intent to reside in Israel in the future. But all this is conjecture until Israel gets true, strong and confident Zionist leadership willing to take decisive measures to assure Israeli survival. We await such times and pray it will not require the Messiah in order to reach such finality.
Beyond the Cusp