Police Chief: AG Erred in Letting MK Feiglin Visit Temple Mount

Right-wing Likud MK says in response: It's a 'legal, religious and moral duty' to go to the site, police chief Yohanan Danino is 'evading responsibility' for his failure to protect Jerusalem.

Shirly Seidler
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MK Feigling after visiting the Temple Mount, November 2, 2014.
MK Feigling after visiting the Temple Mount, November 2, 2014.Credit: Reuters
Shirly Seidler

It was a mistake for Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to give right-wing MK Moshe Feiglin permission to go to the Temple Mount earlier this month, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said at a conference on Tuesday.

“I had prohibited Feiglin from going on the Temple Mount until there was backing from the attorney general," Danino said. "It was a mistake to permit someone up there who is a symbol of changing the status quo.”

Participating in a panel discussion at the Sderot Conference for Society at Sapir College, along with former police chiefs Shlomo Aharonishki, Assaf Hefetz and Moshe Karadi, Danino added: “We want quiet and we want to restore security. We’re always saying, ‘Let’s do everything we can to keep the situation from deteriorating.’ We keep coming back to the Temple Mount. This place is holy to many religions, and we are supposed to maintain the status quo in order to maintain quiet there.”

Deputy Knesset Speaker and Likud member Feiglin visited the mount despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for restraint, in light of mounting tension and clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians in the area. The visit passed without incident.

In response to the commissioner's comments, Feiglin said yesterday: "Danino failed to protect Jerusalem and to safeguard the personal security of the city's residents, and now he is trying to find a scapegoat, and excuses for his failure.

Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino.Credit: Moti Milrod

"I have been going to pray at the Temple Mount, legally, every month for the past 15 years. This is the legal, national, religious and moral duty of every Jew. I suggest that Danino concentrate on ensuring the safety of Jerusalem residents and Israeli citizens, and spend less time taking part in panels and conferences and trying to evade responsibility," he added.

At the conference Danino explained that, “We’ve seen, especially since the elections, that people from the far right have taken the Temple Mount and made it an agenda. We’re constantly warning about it, and we’ve been saying that the Temple Mount should be left alone. The MKs don’t understand what kind of fire they’re setting, and that it’s not right to touch the status quo. We need to be sensitive – The 2000 intifada is still called the Al-Aqsa intifada because it started there.”

“Our job," he continued, "is to ensure that we are safeguarding everyone’s rights. The incitement has ignited the whole region. Since ‘67 the Israeli government has declared unequivocally that it has no intention of changing the status quo. This is the directive, and it’s our duty to uphold it.”

Danino added: “Even if all the talk about changing the law and the status quo has no practical feasibility, such declarations have an effect in the Muslim world.”

Currently, the police "are doing 12-hour shifts like during Operation Protective Edge," he said. "It’s not easy. We’ve canceled vacations, we’ve recruited more officers and the civil guard. I believe that in times like this, tolerance for racist incitement must be reduced. There is no other way. Sanity must be restored to the country.”

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