Israel Police to Netanyahu: Let Lawmakers Visit Temple Mount Again

With the Muslim and Jewish holidays now over, the stage may be set to let Jewish legislators back on the site – if they keep a low profile.

Three Jewish worshipers, escorted by Israeli security forces, visit the Temple Mount, October 28, 2015.
Thomas Coex, AFP

Israeli legislators should be allowed to visit the Temple Mount again, the police told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week, reiterating their opinion first delivered in June now that the Jewish holidays have passed quietly.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu would soon meet with security officials and decide.

A year ago Netanyahu banned visits by Knesset memebrs to the site in Jerusalem’s Old City, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The move was based on agreements with Jordan’s King Abdullah brokered by Washington following a wave of violence in the capital.

This June, before Ramadan, the police said visits by Israeli lawmakers would have to be coordinated in advance, and legislators should not give speeches or bring along journalists or armed security people.

But the government held off until Ramadan was over. If the month passed peacefully, the ban would be lifted, and Arab MKs could visit evenings during the holiday’s final 10 days.

But breaking with the practice over the past five years, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan decided to let Jews though not MKs visit the Mount during Ramadan’s final 10 days. This decision spurred violence on the Mount, after which Erdan banned visits until after Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

During the week-long Sukkot holiday, hundreds of Jews visited the Mount and the week passed peacefully, so the police reiterated their position.

Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick.
Emil Salman

MK Yehudah Glick (Likud) welcomed the police’s recommendation to open the Mount to MKs. “The recommendation is necessary after a record year for the ascent of Jews to the Temple Mount and for calm on the Mount,” Glick said.

He said that if the recommendation is adopted, MKs should “go up to the Mount, obey the police’s instructions to the letter, behave responsibly and in so doing contribute to making the site a worldwide center for peace.”

According to Glick, MKs should not “exploit the ascent to the Temple Mount to promote an agenda, or God forbid, to provoke and incite.”