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Formidable Obstacle. At week's end, however, Israeli police arrested and charged with arson neither a Moslem nor a Jew but a member of the third faith that holds Jerusalem holy: Michael Dennis William Rohan, 28, an Australian ranch hand who has been touring Israel for several months and who, according to the police, belongs to the Church of God, a Protestant evangelical sect. Some reports said that Rohan spoke of a dream in which God commanded him to clear a site in the compound on which to build a Jewish temple. Anxious to damp down the incendiary emotions aroused by the fire, the Israelis held a press conference on the Jewish sabbath—an unprecedented peacetime action—to announce the arrest. Police emphasized that Jerusalem Arabs provided the most important clues by giving them a description of the man and a vest that had been torn from him as he fled from the scene. Said an Israeli police official: "We have enough evidence for any court in this country to convict him."

Whatever the verdict, the Al Aqsa blaze was a disturbing reminder of how deep are the emotions that divide Arab and Israeli—and how formidable an obstacle the control of Jerusalem is to any Middle Eastern settlement.

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