The Politics of Sacred Sites in the West Bank
This chapter explores political riots in Jerusalem and the West Bank surrounding religious sites and the role played by the state in creating space for the riot and in responding to it. It argues that the riots serve a larger political agenda of aggravating the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and are intentionally manipulated by the political entities that have the capacity to either inflame or contain the level of violence. It further claims that popular religious violence serves as an informal political tool that is used by formal governing bodies. In Jerusalem, the chapter looks specifically at three incidents instigated by Israeli government action. These involve the opening of the 1996 Temple Mount tunnels, the 2000 “visit” by Ariel Sharon to the al-Aqsa, and the inclusion of three sites located in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem in the Israeli heritage sites in 2010. In the West Bank there are four major “joint” religious sites and numerous minor ones. The four major sites are the Cave of the Patriarchs (Hebron), Rachel's Tomb (Bethlehem), Joseph Tomb's (Nablus), and Nebi Samuel (north of Jerusalem).
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