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Is this a third Intifada? Political analysts speak their minds

Instability and clashes in East Jerusalem following the killing of Mu'taz Hijazi have raised fears of a third Intifada
Tourists watch during a tension moment as an ultra-orthodox Jewish man escorted by Israeli forces, enters the al-Aqsa mosque compound (AA)

The killing of Mu'taz Hijazi by Israeli police following his suspected shooting of far-right Israeli Rabbi Yehuda Glick has prompted the closure of the Al-Aqsa compound to all visitors leading to an increase in tensions in occupied East Jerusalem, already strained from continued settlement construction.

Mu'taz Hijaz

With anger mounting, some Palestinians are talking of a third intifada.

MEE spoke to commentators on their views regarding the likelihood of a third Intifada:

Ofer Zalzberg, senior analyst International Crisis Group

(Oxford Research Group)

"So far I don’t see any real sign of mass mobilisation among Palestinians. Police presence in Jerusalem is so high now that it makes it very difficult to organise. But I think it will accelerate trends we are already seeing: Arab Muslim individuals, sometimes because of despair, loss or trauma, sometimes because they are part of an armed political faction, instigating specific attacks on Israeli citizens. I think this kind of sporadic, unstructured violence will become more common.

"People are now angrier with Israel for preventing so totally Muslim worshippers from accessing the site. In the last months we’ve seen more of what Israel calls 'dilution policy,' only allowing men over 40 and women inside. This gives Muslims the sense they are being punished collectively."

Hugh Lovatt, Israel-Palestine project coordinator at European Council on Foreign relations


"What happening in Jerusalem now, it’s been building very much for the few months last since the murder of the Palestinian child, Abu Qadir. It hasn’t been in the media but everyday there’s been low intensity conflict between Palestinian youths and Israeli security forces. What’s happening at the moment is happening on impulse, it’s more of an emotional reaction to what’s happening, there is no overarching strategy or organisational movement behind what’s is happening similar to what we saw in the first or second intifadas.

"The way we understand an intifada, you have to have popular mobilisation. So far the violence has been restricted to east Jerusalem, it hasn’t really spread to the West Bank. Even if you go have to murder of the Palestinian teens it was also in an area controlled by Israel, Area C. We haven’t seen any major disturbances in areas controlled by the Palestinian authority. I think what’s happening at the moment is a very dangerous turn of events, a dangerous escalation, coupled with Israel’s refusal to take the necessary step to defuse the situation.

"What’s happening in Jerusalem is a very local phenomenon, it’s the product of grass-roots emotion."

Meron Rapoport, Israeli journalist and writer

"It is too early to say but there is potential for a change of policy towards al-Aqsa. I don’t think Israel and Netanyahu are ready at the moment for a major change like allowing Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. So far Jews who have tried to pray there have been stopped at the gates. But if the closure of the mosque continues for a few days, a new situation could arise in which there will be a lot of pressure on the government from the right-wing to keep it closed or to change the status quo.

"Glick was even ready to sacrifice himself for this – he was aiming for such an incident to happen, in the sense that he knew that only a major event could push Netanyahu into making a change in the status quo. This could be the excuse for changing the status quo – but of course it will depend how the Palestinians react. If it remains closed for a week, two weeks… as long as it is depicted as a temporary measure, the international community will not intervene immediately.

"Europe or the US will not intervene if Israel says 'we had to close it for security reasons, we are not planning to make it permanent.' Then the pressure will be less. But after 3 or 4 weeks it will be very difficult to reverse the situation and allow Muslims back onto Temple Mount.

"There is a very great danger that the status quo will be changed without anyone noticing."

Ismail Patel, Friends of Al-Aqsa

(Middle East Monitor)

"I think Israel is deliberately provoking Palestinians and the Muslim world into over-reacting to the incident that took place and they’re capitalising on the incident of the shooting of the rabbi.

"I think the possibility [of a Third Intifada] is there, however we hope that it doesn’t go down that path, because we understand Israel has always acted indiscriminately and there’ll be massive losses of lives on the Palestinian side. Therefore I think it’s extremely important that the international community rises up and holds Israel accountable and holds Israel accountable for the violation of the Al-Aqsa mosque.

"I believe the demands that have been made recently over the past decade or so by the extremist Israelis, and settlers in particular, is unfounded historically including through the Jewish faith. They have never requested this over the past 1000 years and it’s something new in order to provoke the Palestinians in the Muslim world."

Gideon Levy, Haaretz columnist


"Its very hard to tell but it might get out of control, obviously, nobody plans an intifada now. But things might get out of control and it seems right now that it is going in that direction, but it might also calm down after a while.

"Once you see the context, it all started after the murder and burning alive of the Palestinian child Mohammed Abu Kdheir and ever since then things are just deteriorating. Israel is reacting in the most brutal way in many ways which creates even more distance, but once you also pay attention to the fact that it did not spread into the west bank – its very focused on Jerusalem. I don’t think there is the energy for a new intifada, no leadership and the division in the Palestinian people is still very deep and above all the Palestinians didn’t recover yet from the second intifada which brought them to very bad places.

"They [grant concession to far-right Israelis] all the time, that’s part of Israel’s policy is to please the right-wingers, the settlers, the nationalists and the racists, this government is doing anything possible to please them and this will continue. I doubt [they will let Jews pray on the Temple Mount] very much because even this government understands this will have such consequences that nobody can foresee and I’m not sure they’d go so far.

"Hopefully not, it doesn’t seem they would go so far."