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Official Israeli Policy toward the Temple Mount

 

Below is the text of the 1967 Protection of Holy Places Law, the 1980 Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel, and the 1993 Israel Supreme Court decision concerning the religious and legal status of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Following the text of these three documents is an article which first appeared in 1996, written by Israel Medad, in which he describes the systematic collusion between the Israel Supreme Court and the Israel Police, (as well as with the Moslem Wakf and whatever "angry Moslem mob" they throw together for the ocassion), allowing for the flagrant violation of the rights delineated by law and by Supreme Court declaration. The Supreme Court has, in effect, created a fool-proof means with which to flout the very basic rights it has upheld in its own rulings.

 

 
Protection of Holy Places Law

June 27, 1967

 

1. The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places.

2.  a. Whosoever desecrates or otherwise violates a Holy Place shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of seven years.
     b. Whosoever does anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of five years.

3. This Law shall add to, and not derogate from, any other law.

4. The Minister of Religious Affairs is charged with the implementation of this Law, and he may, after consultation with, or upon the proposal of, representatives of the religions concerned and with the consent of the Minister of Justice make regulations as to any matter relating to such implementation.

5. This Law shall come into force on the date of its adoption by the Knesset.

Levi Eshkol
Prime Minister

Zerach Warhaftig
Minister of Religious Affairs

Shneur Zalman Shazar
President of the State

Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel

17th Av, 5740 (30th July, 1980)

 

Jerusalem, Capital of Israel
1. Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.

Seat of the President, the Knesset, the Government and the Supreme Court
2. Jerusalem is the seat of the President of the State, the Knesset, the Government and the Supreme Court.

Protection of Holy Places
3. The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings towards those places.

Development of Jerusalem
4. (a) The Government shall provide for the development and prosperity of Jerusalem and the well-being of its inhabitants by allocating special funds, including a special annual grant to the Municipality of Jerusalem (Capital City Grant) with the approval of the Finance Committee of the Knesset.

(b) Jerusalem shall be given special priority in the activities of the authorities of the State so as to further its development in economic and other matters.

(c) The Government shall set up a special body or special bodies for the implementation of this section.

* Passed by the Knesset on the 17th Av, 5740 (30th July, 1980) and published in Sefer Ha-Chukkim No. 980 of the 23rd Av, 5740 (5th August, 1980), p. 186; the Bill and an Explanatory Note were published in Hatza'ot Chok No. 1464 of 5740, p. 287.

Israel Supreme Court decision (HG 4185/90) concerning the religious and legal status of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem

Sept. 23 1993

 

Following are excerpts from the Supreme Court's unanimous decision issued Sept. 23 1993, written by Justice Menachem Elon:

The uniqueness and the destiny of the Holy Temple found expression in the prayer of King Solomon upon completion of that building's erection (I Kings, Ch. 8):

"...when a prayer or a plea is made by any person, by any of your people Israel - each one aware of the afflictions of his own heart, and spreading out his hands towards this Temple - then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with each man according to all his deeds, for you know his heart - you alone know the hearts of all men... "

"In the year 538 BCE, Cyrus, King of Persia, issued a proclamation to the Jews of the Babylonian exile in which he announced his wish to raise up the Holy Temple in Jerusalem from its ruins, and urged the exiles to go up to their land and to participate in the rebuilding of the Temple..."

"King Herod wrought a great change in the annals of the Temple Mount and in its contours: The shape of the Mount as we see it today is his work... The Temple Mount and the Holy Temple itself were the heart of the nation and the focus of its faith, whence emanated law and instruction to the people of Israel, and around them gathered all its sons and daughters, from near and far... In the year 70 CE, Titus, the son of the Emperor Vespasian, activated the Roman legions in Jerusalem, which overcame the fierce resistance of the Jewish defenders of the Temple Mount...The historian Gedaliah ...thus sums up the place of the Temple in that era and the reason for its demolition at Titus' hands:

The status and significance of the Temple as the foundation of the state and its religious life, and as the stronghold and the symbol of this people's national spirit and faith - this, more than all else, brought on Titus' order to burn it down... "

"...the Temple Mount has been the holiest place for the past 3,000 years, ever since King Solomon erected the First Temple on Mt. Moriah (II Chron. 3:1); and Mt. Moriah itself had been held sacred because of [an event that took place there some 1 ,000 years earlier], the binding of Isaac by Abraham, the father of the Hebrew nation, 'in the land of Moriah' (Gen. 22:2)... Thus primeval sanctity of the Temple Mount continues unabated to this day - even after the destruction of the First and Second Temples... and the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, which stands to this very day, is the holiest site in Jewish tradition.

"For adherents to the Muslim faith, the Temple Mount has been held sacred for the past 1,300 years - since the conquest of Jerusalem by the Muslims in 638 - and on it they erected the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The sanctity of the Mount, for Muslims, comes after the sanctity of Medina, which in turn comes after the sanctity of Mecca... The Christians, too, ascribe religious importance to the Temple Mount."

The following article was first published in 1996. It is reprinted with permission of the author

Shomron News Service
1 Av 5756 / July 17, 1996

by Yisrael Medad

 

This being the special "three-week" period, which culminates on Tisha B'av, commemorating the destruction of the two Temples, SNS brings its readers a review and analysis of the legal parameters, as well as the public policy concerning the Temple Mount, as regards entry and prayer.

Despite the Law for the Protection of the Holy Places, 1967, and its clauses assuring freedom of access to and worship within each religion's holy sites, despite their reconfirmation in the Basic Law: Jerusalem, 1980, and despite the recognition of those rights, in principle, by Israel's High Court of Justice, in practice the Israeli police consistently refuse to permit any form of Jewish prayer in the confines of the Temple Mount compound. In addition, any outward appearance of religiosity such as Tallit (Prayer Shawl) fringes hanging out, a Prayer Book or other religious tome or any ritual object such as Tefillin (Phylacteries), Lulav (palm branch) or the like are banned. In essence, a Jew may enter his Most Sacred Site but may not do so in a way that would be Jewish.

Some two dozen petitions have been heard by the High Court of Justice in the past 28 years. Throughout them all, the main thread is less a formalistic argument than an agreement by the justices, that in the matter of the Temple Mount, there is an overriding principle of "sensitivity". The "principle of sensitivity" dictates that because Muslims view the Temple Mount Courtyard as their exclusive domain and will engage in violent acts to counter any display of Jewishness, then it is in the interests of public order to prevent a Jew from exercising his legal rights. The presence of a Jew, as a Jew and not as a "tourist" or "visitor", is a provocation. As Professor Itzhak Englard has written: "In substance, the prohibition of public prayer is a violation of the principles of collective freedom of religion" (Amer. Journal of Comparative Law, 35:1987, p. 198).

Jurists and legal experts from the West and especially the United States will readily realize, that based on such a principle, the Civil Rights movement would never had made any gains, not to speak of gay rights and a plethora of social, religious and ethnic issues.

In one instance, in 1994, the Justices ordered the police to insure the entry of Jews (H.C.J. 3995/94) but nevertheless gave the police a free hand to cancel their order if public order needed to be preserved. Needless to say, with 300 angry Muslims led by the Deputy Mufti gathered inside the main entrance of the compound, the Jews assembled outside were denied entry.

The point should be stressed that it is not the wish of Jews to pray inside any Muslim building. In this regard, though, it is worth drawing attention to the fact, that such an arrangement already does exist in Hevron, where Jews and Muslims pray under the same roof. The Israeli Police and Border Guard Units, utilizing electronic instruments, assure the peace at that holy site.

It is undeniable that, legal and security arguments aside, it is a political consideration which denies Jews their civil rights and liberties. For example, although the High Court of Justice has confirmed, inter alia, that the Temple Mount surely is a Jewish holy place, the Department for Holy Places of the Ministry for Religious Affairs does not list the Temple Mount as such, budgets no money for it and in no other way administers the site. Most crucial, the Judges refuse to obligate the relevant Minister to formulate and adopt administrative regulations that would allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount by defining, for example, the location and times for prayer.

The day-to-day administration, actually, is in the hands of the Jordanian Wakf. The religious officials tending to the Temple Mount are not Israeli government employees. They are uniformed and carry sophisticated communications equipment. The Temple Mount is a testing-ground for the undercurrent of tensions between supporters of Arafat, King Hussein and Islamic fundamentalists among those in charge and who run the institutions that exist there: educational, cultural and political.

Many people presume that Jewish Halachic (Jewish law) restrictions would deny entry into the Compound because of a Rabbinic Ban on stepping into sacred precincts. However, that prohibition extends only to a 500 cubit-square area, which is considerably smaller than the current esplanade. Former Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren and others have pronounced in favor of a limited access.

Archaeological and scientific engineering research, which could contribute to the location of the 500 cubit-square are is disallowed. In fact, Jewish archaeological remains are systematically destroyed or covered over. The underground passageways of astounding historical importance are off-limits.

What we are witness to is the exploitation of the juridical system to the political demands of policy. Israel's Courts must be convinced that their duty is to uphold the law and the norms of justice. They themselves, lend a legitimacy to the flouting of legal principles. It should be noted that as recently as this month, Israel's High Court of Justice ordered the police to prepare for the protection of the right of Meretz supporters to demonstrate, even in a provocative fashion, along the Bar-Ilan Boulevard. Will they apply the same outlook to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount.

 

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