Lawmaker Yehudah Glick (Likud) has petitioned the High Court of Justice against Prime Minister Netanyahu and other leaders, asking to immediately repeal the ban on MKs visiting Temple Mount. Netanyahu decided on Monday that the prohibition on Knesset members and ministers visiting Temple Mount would be gradually phased out in three months, if security conditions permit it.
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The petition also targets Interior Minister Arye Dery, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and others. Glick told Haaretz on Tuesday he has no doubt that Netanyahu’s remarks were meant to preempt his appeal. “I am saying something very simple,” he said. “We want to visit Temple Mount, and the police have said for nine months that there are no security considerations preventing this. Anyone visiting the Mount sees that quiet has returned to the place, and political and diplomatic reasons do not justify the continued ban. It is illogical that the whole world can go there, just not MKs.”
Glick, who spoke with Haaretz while on his way to the High Court to file his petition, said he would have cancelled his plan had Netanyahu called him and offered to work on a solution together. “I don’t want to petition the High Court of Justice against the prime minister," he said. "It is strange that an MK from his own party petitions against him, but it is stranger that an MK cannot enter Temple Mount.”
The ban against politicians visiting Temple Mount came out of an agreement between Netanyahu, Jordan's King Abdullah and then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The agreement was meant to calm the eruption of violence around the site, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews, in wake of the 2015 terror wave. Glick states in his petition that security officials have already concluded there is no danger in lawmakers visiting the area, and that the considerations for continuation of the ban are not security-oriented but political.
The petition asserts that the ban restricts lawmakers' freedom of worship and movement and violates immunity clauses in the Basic Law on the Knesset. Glick also says in the petition that Netanyahu has a conflict of interest between “political/party considerations and constitutional and legal considerations regarding the rights of MKs and their immunity.”
In the petition, Glick accuses Netanyahu of exceeding his authority by giving operational orders to the Israel Police, and claims that the police violated the law when it obeyed the prime minister's order on Temple Mount in particular.
Meanwhile, on Monday night police arrested four workers of the Waqf, the Islamic trust responsible for managing Muslim sites in Jerusalem's Old City, on suspicion that they were involved in Monday’s attack on Antiquities Authority staff on the Mount. Six other Waqf employees were arrested earlier on Monday, four of whom remain in custody.
Waqf officials allege the archaeologists were trying to remove stones from the Temple Mount complex, which the Palestinians say violates the status quo. The police say they were forced to intervene during the incident and escort the archaeologists off Temple Mount.