Netanyahu Responds to Critics: Decision to Remove Temple Mount Security Measures Was Difficult

After Israel removed contested metal detectors and security cameras from entrance to Temple Mount, Netanyahu says he is aware of the public’s feelings

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on July 30, 2017.
AMIR COHEN/REUTERS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday responded those criticizing his decision to  the security cabinet's decision to remove the metal detectors from the entrances to the Temple Mount last week was not easy. Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, the prime minister said the public was not aware of information on threats to Israel.

“I am attentive to the public’s sensitivities and understand their feelings," Netanyahu said. "The decision we made was not an easy one. But as the prime minister of Israel and the person who bears responsibility for Israel’s security, I must make decisions calmly dispassionately and with proper judgment. I do so with a broad perspective of the entire map and the threats facing us, and some of which are not known to the public,” added Netanyahu.

“I understand the public’s feelings but also understand what are the obligations of leadership, and act accordingly. I am telling our enemies on all fronts: the IDF and Shin Bet [security service] are prepared to act with all their strength against those who try to harm us,” said Netanyahu.

Last week the right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party called the decision to remove metal detectors from the entrance to the Temple Mount "capitulation."

“All the declarations made in recent days are pointless. The damage caused by caving in [to Palestinian demands] and the serious harm to security must be countered by a determined fight against terrorism, and not through words. We must stop capitulating and rewarding terrorism," the Habayit Hayehudi said in a statement on Thursday.

Sources from Netanyahu's Likud party responded sharply Friday, saying that after "pompously" expressing support for Netanyahu, the leader of the party, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, had yielded to media pressure.

“Bennett initially supported their removal, pompously declaring his support for the prime minister. Then he could not withstand public and media pressure for even one minute” said a Likud official.

“Israel’s security is not a matter of populism or of making political gains, it’s a sacred principle, and anyone who childishly and irresponsibly turns it into a platform for tweets on Twitter endangers Israel’s security more than anything else,” the official added.

“If there’s anything that’s dangerous for Israel it is people who sit in Israel’s inner security cabinet, whose guiding compass is not the good of Israel’s citizens but their own personal good and the news they can leak.”