The metal detectors at the entrance to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound were no more than the latest impediment on a long and bumpy road. Backtrack to the Six-Day War of 1967 when Israeli Jews declared jubilantly that they would finally pray at the Temple Mount. Since those days, this walled territory of 35 acres known as the al-Aqsa compound, has been the scene of many ugly events and challenging gridlocks.

Turn back to 1969 when al-Qabali Mosque was set on fire, or Black Monday in 1990 when 20 Palestinians were killed in the al-Aqsa Massacre? Recall also the 63 people who died in 1996 during the protests over the opening of a new tunnel by the Israelis under the Western Wall? Or the second Intifada in 2000? Since then, encounters between Palestinians and Israeli settlers protected by Israeli forces have resulted in an escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In actuality, what Israel has been doing over many long years is pursuing its political aims of impinging on Palestinian lands through religious prisms. It is simple: seize the lands on the basis of a political ideology and then later claim that they are being taken for religious purposes.

Consequently, Jewish religious settlers have been fighting to secure these rights on religious grounds and government officials have rallied them for political reasons. Recently, a newspaper reported the Jewish Home party calling for the building of a synagogue inside the al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard.

It is dangerous when religion and politics cloister in such an seditious manner.

And the outcome?

Any opportunity is clasped to introduce new realities on the ground. Case in point being the illegal settlements.

In their own right, the metal detectors are one small factor. But if viewed more widely, they become an apparatus for gradual control of Palestinian territory in such a way that it does not jerk at Arab and Muslim sensibilities let alone rumple up the international community. Moreover, any increase in the rights of Israeli Jews would inevitably lead to downsizing of the rights of Palestinian Muslims.

But there is a stark difference. In the past, from Saudi Arabia to Morocco, and from Egypt to Jordan, Arab countries and the Muslim world in general had used their moral and political clout to obstruct the expansion of any such raptorial designs. However, following the Arab uprisings of 2010-2011 though, the political contour of the region has changed - in some cases subtly and in others more bluntly. These days, the Arab masses are far too busy with their own purposeless struggles against the oppression of their rulers to fight for Palestinian rights. In fact, Palestine nowadays garners more support outside the Arab World than inside it.

New alliances are clearly being forged, and new enmities are also being whetted- the May Arab Summit being evidence enough. Israel is now considered more of a strategic ally with whom to share intelligence than to fight over holy sites and peoples’ appropriated rights. With Iran the mantra being, the enemy of my enemy becomes my friend.

It is heartbreaking to watch the new Anti-Terror Quartet melodrama in blockading Qatar and reprimanding it for actions that are no different from those of its accusers. Would this time not be better spent in defending Arab rights which are slowly but surely being pilfered away?

Political mistakes have often tended to come back and haunt Arab leaders:

Here is to hoping that this will not be the case here too.

The writer is a currently a research fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad. Her prime area of is Middle East Politics.