After Ban, Israel May Soon Allow Lawmakers to Visit Temple Mount Again

Netanyahu ordered MKs not to visit the contested holy site to reduce tensions after the 2015 terror wave ■ Israel expected to allow visits for five-day trial period

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel visiting the Temple Mount in 2012.
Michal Fattal

Israeli lawmakers may soon be allowed to once again visit the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, a year and a half after MK's were banned from visiting the contested holy site in an effort to reduce tensions.

The State Prosecutor’s office is expected to inform the High Court of Justice this week that the government will open the Temple Mount to such visits for a trial period of five days, during which time it will examine the effects of the decision on the situation and tensions in the area.

“The decision to open the Temple Mount is correct and appropriate,” said lawmaker Yehuda Glick (Likud), who petitioned the High Court against the ban. “It is a shame we were forced to reach the High Court of Justice in order for this decision to be made. I call on all MKs to go up to the [Temple] Mount and respect the site in the appropriate manner and to leave the disagreements and agendas outside the [Temple] Mount. 

“I call on the government and Public security minister to act as needed against anyone who takes advantage of this decision for acts of terrorism. We will continue to hope that the [Temple] Mount will fulfill its role as a world center for peace and reconciliation,” added Glick.

Lawmakers have been prohibited from going up to the Temple Mount for the past year and a half. In October 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered MKs not to visit the Temple Mount to reduce tensions after the wave of Palestinian violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as in an attempt to reduce tensions with Jordan.

In March, Netanyahu decided that if the security situation allows, and if the assessments of the police and Shin Bet security service are encouraging, then such visits to the Temple Mount by ministers and MKs will be introduced gradually, immediately after the end of Ramadan at the end of June.