Israel Police Chief Bans Israeli Lawmakers From Temple Mount

Knesset rules that visiting the Mount will be considered an ethical violation.

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Israeli Arab MK Basel Ghattas at Temple Mount. October 28, 2015.Credit: Balad

Acting Israel Police Commissioner Maj. Gen. Bentzi Sau banned MKs from entering the Temple Mount on Monday, saying that the tension caused by such visits may affect the entire country’s security situation. 

The move comes after MK Basel Ghattas (Joint Arab List) visited the flashpoint site last week without police interference, despite a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request that MKs refrain from doing so.

In a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Sau wrote, “In light of the extreme tension prevailing on the Temple Mount in recent weeks and on the basis of the opinion of security sources submitted to me, I believe that the ascendance of MKs to the Temple Mount at this time will lead to increasing tensions on the Mount, tensions that are very likely to influence the security situation throughout the country."

“Given the police’s responsibility for the security of life and property and in accordance with the authority invested in me by the Police Ordinance and the opinion of the attorney-general, I’ve decided to forbid the entrance of MKs to the Temple Mount until further notice,” Sau continued.

At the same time, the Knesset Ethics Committee decided that from now, visits by MKs to the Temple Mount and the Al-Aqsa Mosque will be considered a violation of the Knesset’s ethical code. Committee chairman Yitzhak Vaknin of Shas said the decision was “exceedingly exceptional” and stemmed from the current security situation. 

Edelstein called on MKs not to visit the Temple Mount in response to Ghattas’ visit there. “I am appealing to my coalition colleagues – let’s not respond with protests of our own. Let’s at least be human beings,” he said. “Enough, enough, enough! We don’t have to wait to reach a state of bloodshed. One can be an MK without being a pyromaniac.”