After Two-year Ban, Israeli Lawmakers Visit Temple Mount

Visit by right-wing politicians part of one-day trial to assess whether to permanently lift the ban, which was imposed by Netanyahu in October 2015

MK Shuli Mualem-Rafali at the Temple Mount, August 29, 2017.
Uri Bank

Two right-wing Israeli lawmakers visited the Temple Mount on Tuesday, the first such visit by Knesset members since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu imposed a ban on such visits in October 2015.

The visits by MK Yehudah Glick (Likud) and MK Shuli Moalem–Refaeli (Habayit Hayehudi) occured as part of a one-day trial, intended to gauge how the presence of lawmakers at the compound impacts the situation on the ground.

Though members of all parties are allowed to take part in the trial, Joint Arab List lawmakers announced they would not visit the compound. MK Ahmad Tibi said Arab lawmakers will enter whenever they wish, "not when Netanyahu decides."

Far right Israeli Rabbi and Israeli parliament member Yehuda Glick (L) walks barefoot, escorted by Israeli police and supporters, inside the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, also known as the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem's Old City on August 29, 2017, after a ban on Israeli lawmakers visiting the ultra-sensitive holy site was lifted for one day.
AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP

"The Temple Mount is my source of life," Glick said after his visit, adding that he prayed for his family, for strength for Netanyahu and for peace in the Middle East and elsewhere. Asked if his actions could be viewed as a provocation, Glick replied that according to his worldview, whoever visits the Temple Mount with good intentions contributes to peace in the world.

Israeli security officials are now expected to assess whether to permanently allow lawmakers to visit the Temple Mount.

In October 2015, Netanyahu ordered police to prevent ministers and Knesset members from entering the Temple Mount, in an attempt to quell violence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. In June 2016, Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan reissued the order, banning all Israeli lawmakers from visiting the Temple Mount until further notice.