Monday August 6, 2012
MK Zeev Elkin says the High Court of Justice permits Jews to pray on the holy site, but police decided to introduce sweeping ban on Jewish prayer out of their own operational considerations.
by Shlomo Cesana
Jews are currently allowed to visit the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, as tourists and for a few hours only on Sunday to Thursday mornings.
The Israel Police force is illegally preventing Jews from praying on the Temple Mount, according to Coalition Chairman MK Zeev Elkin (Likud).
"The current situation, where Jews are not allowed to pray during a visit to the Temple Mount, is the result of a decision taken by the police and the police alone, and it is illegal," Elkin, who is also a member of the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee, said on Sunday.
Jews are currently allowed to visit the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, as tourists, and only for a few hours on Sunday to Thursday mornings. Police officers stationed at the entrance to the site, which is under Israeli sovereignty, stress to Jewish visitors that they are not allowed to pray or conduct any sort of religious service at the site.
Elkin says the issue has been discussed several times in committee meetings with Police Commissioner Insp. Gen. Yohanan Danino and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, but the policy has not been altered.
Elkin said the High Court of Justice had ruled that Jews were allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, and that police could temporarily prohibit Jewish prayer in situations where there was a risk to public order or to the public good.
"But the police claim that this is always the case... A basic right like prayer should not be limited," Elkin said. "The decisions are mostly linked to the police's operational considerations, and not to the government's policies. The police are overly concerned with 'covering their tails' on this matter."
Elkin proposed introducing a similar understanding on the Temple Mount to the one that exists for the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. This would give priority to Jews during Jewish holidays and to Muslims on Muslim holidays also on the Temple Mount.