New dangerous tunnels leading to al-Aqsa Mosque are being built in East Jerusalem, which is under occupation according to international laws. The tunnels are being built under the guise of so-called archaeological excavations, but everybody knows that al-Aqsa Mosque is the target. The tunnel is part of an archaeological project led by ELAD, an association that aims to expand the illegal settlements in East Jerusalem. ELAD claims that the tunnel is the old “pilgrimage path” leading to the “Temple of Solomon.” The tunnel is said to be connected to certain tunnels that have been dug under al-Aqsa Mosque.
Such excavations have been ongoing for decades in East Jerusalem, which was occupied in 1967. As many as 100 Palestinians lost their lives in the West Bank and Gaza in the incidents that broke out in 1996 as a result of a tunnel that was dug near the “Wailing Wall.”
Benjamin Netanyahu was prime minister back then as well. Israel declared Jerusalem its eternal capital in 1980. This decision was not considered legitimate by any state in the world. The U.S., run by the Donald Trump administration, was the first state to take a step in this regard by moving its embassy to Jerusalem.
The UN Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) accepted in 2016 a bill stating that there is no clause concerning al-Aqsa Mosque’s connection to Judaism. UNESCO also added the old city of Al-Khalil to the world heritage list. The decisions were aimed at preventing Israel from intervening in these areas under the pretext of archaeological excavations. Trump’s U.S. and Netanyahu’s Israel used these decisions as an excuse and decided to withdraw from UNESCO.
Trump, who officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, also approved the annexation of “Golan Heights.” Now it is time for the West Bank. Trump had announced that he prepared a Palestine peace plan, which he branded as the “Deal of the Century.” The economic aspect of the plan was revealed in a conference in Bahrain last week. Only six Arab states were able to join the conference that was boycotted by Palestinians. Netanyahu is continuing his annexation attempts despite the fact that the outline of the so-called peace plan is still ambiguous.
U.S. was once again on the frontlines in the tunnel opening near al-Aqsa Mosque the previous day. Senator Lindsey Graham, who previously posed with Netanyahu at the “Golan Heights,” was at the opening of the tunnel this time. Sheldon Adelson, a financier of the “American Zionist Organization,” and his wife Miriam Adelson, Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt, who is on the committee that prepared Trump’s so-called peace plan, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, National Security Council Middle East Director Victoria Coates, and a few other U.S. ambassadors were also at this ceremony. Prior to Trump taking office, officials representing the U.S. government always avoided joining events organized by the Israeli government in East Jerusalem. Look at the state we’re in now!
Friedman, who made the opening speech of the ceremony, claimed that the tunnel confirms the connection between the area where Jews and al-Aqsa Mosque is located. These words are an answer to UNESCO. Friedman, who said the U.S. was established based on the Bible, also added that the tunnel is as much part of U.S. heritage as it is Israel’s. With these words, Friedman is making a reference to the American “Christian-Zionist Evangelicals.” Evangelicals are a major element of Trump’s mass support base.
The opening of the tunnel coming immediately after the “Palestine Conference” in Bahrain is intentional. Netanyahu is developing his agenda step by step. Strong representation of Americans at the tunnel opening signifies U.S. endorsement of East Jerusalem’s annexation. Through this tunnel show, Israel and the U.S. are declaring that Trump’s so-called peace plan is a stillborn.
How the “Organization of Islamic Cooperation,” with its Saudi secretary-general Yousef Al-Othaimeen, is going to respond to Israel’s tunnel recklessness will be interesting to watch. The organization that was formerly called the “Islamic Conference,” was established in 1969 in the aftermath of the arson of al-Aqsa Mosque. The U.S. and Israel are playing with fire, but what use is the 57-member “Organization of Islamic Cooperation”?