Israel Police Appeal Controversial Temple Mount Ruling

Police seeks to overturn a Jerusalem court decision to revoke an order that kept three Jewish men from the Temple Mount after they recited a prayer at the holy site

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Jewish visitors gesture as Israeli security forces secure the area at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, in May.
Jewish visitors gesture as Israeli security forces secure the area at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, in May.Credit: AMMAR AWAD/Reuters
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

Jerusalem Police on Monday appealed a court's decision to overturn an order barring three Jews from the Temple Mount, after they prayed there in violation of understandings with Muslim authorities

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City is considered the holiest site in Judaism, having been the seat of the two ancient temples. At the same time, it is the site of the al-Aqsa mosque compound, a Muslim holy site. This has long been a flashpoint of Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

Israel allows Jews to visit on condition they refrain from prayer or religious rites. The Israeli Prime Minister's Office released a statement on Sunday night saying that there is no plan to change this status quo of banning Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.

On Sunday, Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ruled in favor of three appellants, two adults and a minor, who had been detained and then banned from the Old City for 15 days for prostrating themselves and intoning the Shema, a core Jewish prayer at the compound.

Deputy Superintendent Yoram Segal, who filed the appeal, claims that the three men violated instructions and endangered public safety. The officer stated that the actions of the men in the sensitive place could harm public's safety.

On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement calling Sunday's ruling "a grave assault against the historic status quo … and a flagrant challenge to international law.” He added that the court's decision "allows settlers to hold Talmudic rituals" in the mosque's compound.

The ruling came a week before nationalist Jews are due to hold an annual flag march through Jerusalem's Old City, marking its capture by Israel in the Six-Day War. The event is resented by Palestinians, who want the Old City and other parts of East Jerusalem as capital of their hoped-for future state.

Jordan, a U.S.-backed Israeli security partner that serves as custodian of al-Aqsa, has also voiced concern about the Jewish visits to the compound. Jordanian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Haitham Abu Alfoul said that the decision is invalid and illegitimate per international law, which does not recognize the authority of the Israeli justice system over East Jerusalem.

"The decision represents a grave violation of the historic and legal status-quo at the al-Aqsa Mosque," he said. He warned against allowing extremists to "storm the al-Aqsa Mosque."

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