Who has the strongest claim to Jerusalem?

Why the escalation in Jerusalem is only cautiously mobilizing Arab countries

There is one thing that those Arab governments, for whom the new Israeli-Palestinian confrontation does not fit into their new friendly Israel policy at all, cannot hope: that the usual bustle around the end of Ramadan and the festival of the breaking of the fast will affect the events in Jerusalem lets forget. It is the second Ramadan that is overshadowed by the corona pandemic, that is, people are sitting in front of the TVs - or hanging out on social media, where outrage over Israel is fueled.

At home instead of in the mosque

On the other hand, the public restrictions imposed by the health crisis could help the authorities to keep any attempts at mobilization under control. This year, too, many people will be more at home than in mosques or at larger gatherings; in many countries only the shops necessary for basic supplies are open.

At least that is what the recommendations in many Islamic countries are. The number of infections in the region is mostly falling again, also slightly in Iran and Turkey, where the situation has been particularly bad in recent weeks. There are individual current outliers, such as Bahrain, where the numbers have risen sharply recently. Statistics from some countries, such as those from Syria, but also from Egypt, are not considered reliable.

Focus on Jerusalem

The Israeli-Palestinian escalation is good for mobilization in the region, which is actually tired of the Palestinian conflict - as some people especially in the Gulf States emphasize - because it affects the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem at an Islamic festival. The convictions from some Arab state chancelleries sounded more like compulsory exercises, at least at the beginning of the conflict. At the weekend, the United Arab Emirates urged Israel to "take responsibility for the de-escalation", Morocco expressed "deep concern", King Mohammed VI. consider it "likely that these injuries (This refers to the evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, note) The head of government in Morocco is the Muslim Brotherhood PJD. The Moroccan king is also head of the Jerusalem Committee of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which has not met for years.

Subdued reports

There were also rather restrained requests to speak from Bahrain and Sudan. The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco are the four states that normalized or at least began to normalize their relations with Israel last year under the "Abrahamic Treaties". Besides them, two Arab countries have had peace treaties that go back a long way, Egypt since 1979, Jordan since 1994.

In Egypt, public opinion is not friendly to Israel. Since the current president and then army chief Abdelfattah al-Sisi overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi in 2013, cooperation with Israel has been very close again, especially in the security area. There is no sympathy whatsoever for Hamas in the Gaza Strip - originally the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood that arose in Egypt - neither with the government in Cairo nor with those in the Arab Gulf states.

Reconciliation processes

Nevertheless, a surprisingly energetic, albeit still open, process of reconciliation between states that could be described as pro or contra Muslim Brotherhood is underway: both Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu - Turkey is practically the godfather of the Muslim Brotherhood - and the Emir of Turkey Qatar, who were close friends and went one way among the Gulf States, were in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of the week. Cairo is also working to normalize relations with both Ankara and Doha.

And recently Turkey has also tried to improve its shabby relations with Israel. The incidents on the Temple Mount could mean a setback, as Ankara poses as the defender of Islam and Muslims worldwide - which has always been a thorn in the side of Saudi Arabia.

Israeli-Jordanian relations, on the other hand, have bottomed out recently. Jordan administers the Islamic sites on the Temple Mount. King Abdullah II, who is also plagued by internal problems, cannot afford not to condemn Israel. Not least because of Israel's Jerusalem policy, he accused the "Abraham Accords" countries of a lack of solidarity. And he fears that an Israel-friendly Saudi Arabia under a future King Mohammed bin Salman, currently crown prince, could loot Jordan from his function in Jerusalem with the help of Israel. (Gudrun Harrer, May 11th, 2021)