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Outrage from Israel, when it is convenient

The biggest obstacle to peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors is Israeli hypocrisy driven by a double standard of justice. Israel has been highlighting Arab speculation that it orchestrated the most recent clashes at the Haram Al-Sharif mosque compound in order to further obfuscate its archaeological digging.

Israel has been digging in, around and under the compound since it occupied East Jerusalem in 1967. One of its first acts was to expel hundreds of Palestinians from their homes next to the Wailing Wall to turn the biblical Hebrew site into a huge plaza.

Over the years, Israel has initiated dozens of archaeological digs to prove Jewish heritage at the site, and to challenge the rights of Christians and Muslims in Jerusalem. It is part of Israel’s Judaization of Palestine, erasing historic icons that reflect the heritage of Christians and Muslims, and augmenting and exaggerating the heritage of anything Jewish.

Pro-Israel activists have been expressing outrage over what they claim are “blood libel” assertions that Israel is excavating under the Haram Al-Sharif. Tensions spiked following violence by three oppressed Palestinians at the compound, which resulted in their deaths and that of two Israeli police officers. Israel imposed metal detectors and blocked Muslim access to the compound.

Fears are growing that the anger will, as before, get out of hand. Israel does not want another uprising. Even though it squashes Palestinian rebellions brutally, at the cost of thousands of civilian lives, it ends up suffering too, though not as much.

Israel cannot continue to claim it is a victim when it is the cause of most of the violence, death and destruction. Its refusal to recognize Palestinian rights is a violation of the very international law it embraces when convenient.

Ray Hanania

Tensions have spread to Jordan, the official custodian of the compound, and King Abdallah has protested its closure for prayers. Israel has a discreet embassy in Amman, and over the weekend Israeli security guards shot and killed two Jordanians, one of whom they claimed had attacked them. One of the victims was a physician called to the scene.

Jordan acted quickly to cordon off the area and try to prevent protests. Jordanian authorities wanted to investigate, but Israel cited diplomatic immunity under international law, which it consistently violates.

Israel ignores international law when it oppresses Palestinians, destroys the homes of relatives of suspects accused of violence, confiscates lands and homes on occupied territory, prevents Muslims from praying at holy sites, and rejects UN resolutions. For instance, UNESCO has repeatedly been denied access to inspect Israel’s archaeological digs under the Haram Al-Sharif.

Israel cannot continue to claim it is a victim when it is the cause of most of the violence, death and destruction in that part of the world. Its refusal to recognize Palestinian rights is a violation of the very international law it embraces when convenient. Israel’s actions are fueling a conflict that it knows could easily spiral out of its control.

• Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian-American former journalist and political columnist. Email him at [email protected]