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Majority of Israelis back Jewish prayer rights at Temple Mount

reposted from The Jerusalem Post
04.12.2015 | 23 Nisan, 5775

Police prohibit any non-Muslim prayer at the site as well as any outward demonstrations of religious worship.

by Jeremy Sharon

A new poll released on Sunday by the Yesodot Center for Torah and Democracy showed a majority of Jews in Israel favoring prayer rights for Jews on the Temple Mount, something which is currently forbidden by police restrictions.

The Supreme Court has upheld the theoretical right for Jews to pray at the site although it has stated that the security services are permitted to take security considerations into account when deciding whether or not to allow non-Muslim prayer there.

Access for Jews and other non-Muslims at the Temple Mount is strictly controlled, and police prohibit any non-Muslim prayer at the site as well as any outward demonstrations of religious worship, in accordance with the demands of the Jordanian Islamic trust, or Wakf, which administers the area.

According to the poll conducted by the Yifat Gat research institute in April on a sample of 500 adults, 37 percent of those interviewed agreed that the government should allow free access to adherents of all religions who wish to pray at the Temple Mount.

Another 36% said that specific prayer hours should be established for different religious groups to hold services at the site, as is the case at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, while 20% said that government does not need to establish free access for all religions.

Some 7% said that Jewish access to the Temple Mount should only be allowed at specific times and on Jewish holidays.

And in response to the question of who should have sovereignty over the site, 66% said it should be the Israeli government, 2.4% said the Islamic trust currently administering the site, and 32 percent said a special body should be established comprising Jewish and Muslim leaders who would determine prayer times on the Temple Mount.

Among those who said Jews should have free access including full prayer rights at the site, 40.7% defined themselves as religious and 39.9% said they were secular.

Of those who said they were not in favour of allowing Jewish prayer rights at the Temple Mount, 61% said they were haredi, 18% were from the national-religious community and 13% were secular.

However, Yesodot Director Dr. David Feuchtwanger highlighted what he described as the surprisingly large number of haredi interviewees who said they supported freedom of worship on the Temple Mount, totalling 19.6% of those polled who said they were haredi and were in favour of Jewish prayer rights at the site, while another 13.7% said that specific hours should be established for members of all religions to have prayer services at different times during the day.

It has been the mainstream rabbinic opinion for many years, especially in the haredi community, to ban Jews from the site since it is currently impossible to perform a required ritual to ascend to certain areas on the Temple Mount, which is why the numbers of haredim supporting Jewish prayer at the site surprised Yesodot.

Several senior rabbinic figures in the national religious community have in recent years permitted visitation however, arguing that the prohibited areas can be avoided.

When asked whether or not security considerations should be taken into account when considering freedom of worship on the Temple Mount, 43% of those polled answered yes and 37% said that it depended on the political atmosphere and security incidents and 20% said that diplomatic and security considerations should not limit freedom of worship at the site whatsoever.



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