Knesset Debate on Jewish Prayer on Temple Mount Ends in Name-calling, Walkout

Arab and right-wing Jewish MKs clashed during an Interior Committee hearing, exchanging insults such as 'savages' and 'pyromaniacs.'

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

Arab and right-wing Jewish MKs clashed on Monday during a Knesset Interior Committee hearing on arrangements for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.

Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben Dahan (Habayit Hayehudi) was scheduled to present a proposal setting specific hours for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, something that is currently forbidden. As it turned out, Ben Dahan declined to present his proposal, saying he was waiting for additional halakhic rulings by the recently-installed chief rabbis on the issue.

Nevertheless, a bitter argument erupted between MKs from the Arab parties and MKs from the right, only a few minutes after the hearing began.

“When King David bought the Temple Mount you were savages in the desert. You have no rights on the Temple Mount, that’s a historical fact. Nothing will help you. Even now you are savages,” MK Orit Strock (Habayit Hayehudi) yelled at the Arab MKs present.

“You are playing with fire, you’re going to set off a firestorm,” responded MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad). “I’m not threatening, that’s simply what’s going to happen.”

“The second intifada broke out because of Al Aksa and the third intifada will break out because of you,” said MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List), who then called committee chairman MK Miri Regev (Likud) a “pyromaniac.”

The Arab MKs left the committee room and the hearing continued without them. Regev said she would file a complaint with the Knesset Ethics Committee about what she called, “Arab MKs who speak against the state.”

The Temple Mount.Credit: Nir Kafri