Khaled Abu Toameh
The Jerusalem Post
October 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Heads of the Waqf Department have quietly expressed their satisfaction with the Israeli authorities' recent measures against Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, and top Fatah operative Hatem Abdel Qader, a senior official with the Ministry for Internal Security said on Thursday.

Salah and Abdel Qader have each been arrested by the Jerusalem Police for their role in instigating the latest wave of violent protests at the Temple Mount.

The two have also been banned by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court from entering the Old City of Jerusalem for different periods of time.

The official praised the heads of the Waqf Department for their role in "calming the situation" and preventing a further deterioration.

Noting that the Waqf Department, which reports to the Jordanian Government, had refrained from joining the "wild campaign of incitement" against Israel in recent weeks, the official told The Jerusalem Post that the heads of the department were "very pleased" that Salah and Abdel Qader have been banned from entering the Temple Mount.

"The directors of the Waqf Department in Jerusalem did not like the fact that Sheikh Salah and Abdel Qader were meddling in the affairs of the Temple Mount," the official said. "Some of the people at the Waqf even advised us to take certain measures to keep the followers of the two men away from the holy site."

The official would not say whether the Waqf heads were acting on instructions from their superiors in the Jordanian Government.

However, he pointed out that the Jordanian authorities have also expressed dissatisfaction with the activities of Salah and Abdel Qader and their followers on the Temple Mount.

The official said that the Jerusalem police and the Waqf Department have for years maintained a "constructive, frank and positive dialogue" to ensure that the status quo on the Temple Mount was preserved.

"We have a common interest with the Waqf Department," the security official continued. Both of us are aware of the dangers coming from Fatah and the Islamic Movement."

He added that in recent weeks Waqf officials told Israeli police officers in private that they were worried by the increased activities of Fatah and Sheikh Raed Salah's followers on the Temple Mount.

"Most of the young men who had barricaded themselves inside the Aqsa Mosque during the recent events belonged to the northern branch of the Islamic Movement or Fatah," the Israeli official disclosed.

"The cooperation of the Waqf Department with the Israeli authorities prevented a serious deterioration and bloodshed," the official said.

"The problem is that there are certain things the Waqf managers can't say in public; that's why they tell us what they really feel only behind closed doors. And the truth is that the Waqf doesn't want troublemakers like Salah and Abdel Qader on the Temple Mount."


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