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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Why Do Iran and Hizbullah Crave Jerusalem?

Filed under: Iran, Jerusalem, Operation Swords of Iron

Why Do Iran and Hizbullah Crave Jerusalem?
A poster published by Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei in 2020 to celebrate “the Final Solution“ – the capture of Jerusalem. (

“Save the Al-Aqsa Mosque!” is the battle cry of radical Islam and is featured in all the war slogans of Hamas, Hizbullah, and Iran. Even Muslim Brotherhood supporter, Turkish President Erdogan, makes no pretensions over wresting control of the Temple Mount. As for Hizbullah and Iran, the passion for Jerusalem is puzzling because the Shiite religion does not attribute any significance to Jerusalem.

Anyone walking through the alleys of the Old City cannot find a trace of Shiite history in Jerusalem. According to the Shi’ite book of traditions Bihar al-Anwar, “Seas of Lights,” the Prophet Muhammad forbade pilgrimages to Jerusalem, only to Kufah (in Iraq), which was to become a Shiite religious center. Even the Isra (night journey) and the Mi’raj (journey to Heaven), according to the Shiite religion, did not happen in Jerusalem but in a “distant mosque” in Heaven, and the Mi’raj is a ladder on which the Prophet climbed to the upper heavens. There is no mention of Buraq, the miraculous winged horse of the Sunna that brought the Prophet to the Temple Mount.

So why do Iran and Hizbullah put Al-Aqsa on the top of their agenda? After the bloody Sunni-Shia war between Iraq and Iran, the ayatollahs decided to emphasize the liberation of Jerusalem, so that the Sunnis would look west to Jerusalem and not east to Tehran. As far as the Shi’a is concerned, “saving Al-Aqsa” is a political slogan, not a religious value.

Section of Khamenei’s poster

Section of Khamenei’s poster

Section of Khamenei’s poster
Sections of Khamenei’s poster to celebrate “the Final Solution” – the capture of Jerusalem. Note the pictures of Iranian and Palestinian heroes (Khomeini, Qassem Soleimani, Imad Mughniyeh, Sheikh Yassin) and the flags of Palestine, Hizbullah, Hamas, and other Iranian proxies. (

In the growing tension within the Arab world between moderate Sunnis and Iran, Qatar, and the Muslim Brotherhood, a unity of interests is being created between Israel and the moderate Sunni world, i.e., Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, Egypt, and so on. It should be noted that Egypt and Morocco, which previously had ambitions about the Jerusalem mosques, withdrew from the Mount. Morocco, formally the head of the Arab League’s Committee for Jerusalem, has lost interest and is no longer involved in Jerusalem affairs as in the past.

What remains of the tensions in the moderate Sunni world is the struggle between Saudi Arabia and Jordan, since the two kingdoms bear the crown of “Guardian of the Holy Places” – Saudi Arabia in Mecca and Medina and the Hashemites in Jerusalem. The question of Jerusalem is, therefore, the question of the legitimacy of the House of Saud versus the House of Hashem, which was the guardian of the holy sites in Mecca before the Saudis expelled them at the beginning of the last century.

How does this relate to Israel? At this historic crossroads, moderate Sunni forces see Israel as the only force that can curb the extremists’ efforts to turn the “liberation of Al-Aqsa” into an engine for the Shiite takeover of the Arab and Muslim world.

Because of the struggle between Saudi Arabia and Jordan, it is impossible to agree on an inter-Arab force that can replace Israel as the force defending the mosques. Jordanian and the Waqf’s acquiescence to Israeli police presence on the Temple Mount is a cornerstone of the status quo on the Mount.

But, as Superman said in his famous films, with power comes responsibility. History has presented the Jewish State with an opportunity to protect major mosques of Islam, and this requires it to have a degree of responsibility befitting this unprecedented role.