August 12, 2013 Monday 6 Elul 5773
by Lahav Harkov
Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman says police must make effort to ensure unlimited Jewish access to the site.
Police should be prepared for an increase in Jews trying to access the Temple Mount ahead of the High Holidays, Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev (Likud Beytenu) warned on Sunday.
Temple Mount Heritage Foundation chairman Yehuda Glick complained to the committee that Jews visiting the Temple Mount during the month of the Muslim holiday Ramadan were met by Arabs calling out racial slurs.
Police would not allow Jews to go up to the Mount for 21 days, unlike in previous years when they were barred from the area only on Id al-Fitr, Glick recounted, expressing concern about Jewish access to the holy site during the upcoming High Holidays.
Asst.-Cmdr. Moshe Bareket, the head of the David police precinct in Jerusalem said that the policy for Jewish entry to the Temple Mount did not change during Ramadan.
However, Bareket explained that the government’s policy in the past two years is to allow Palestinians to visit the Mount during Ramadan, and the number of visitors increased to tens of thousands during the week and hundreds of thousands on Fridays.
Police only blocked Jews from going up to the Mount on the Ninth of Av fast day and during the last 10 days of Ramadan, which are “especially sensitive,” Bareket said.
As for the upcoming High Holidays, Bareket said the police is making every effort to ensure unlimited Jewish access to the site.
“Jews have no less of a right to go up to the Temple Mount than Palestinians,” Regev said.
Regev, along with MKs Nissim Ze’ev (Shas), Orit Struck (Bayit Yehudi) and David Tsur (Hatnua) lamented the fact that no representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office attended the meeting to clarify its position, even though the PMO is responsible for dealing with the issue.
MK Dov Henin (Hadash) called to maintain the status-quo when it comes to prayer on the Temple Mount.
“Since the 15th century, Jews prayed at the Western Wall and Muslims prayed on the Temple Mount,” he stated. “Any change to the status quo can have catastrophic results in the talks between us and the Palestinians.”
Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg called for freedom of worship for all religions, and said she hopes the current negotiations with the Palestinian Authority will allow that.
Earlier Sunday, Manhigut Yehudit, a Likud members’ group led by MK Moshe Feiglin, submitted a report to the committee stating that the police violates the rights of Jews on the Temple Mount.
Jews were allowed on the Mount less than five percent of the time Muslims were, according to the report. In addition, there has been an increase in “organized Muslim violence,” which the police do not fight.
The Manhigut Yehudit report concluded that police “give a prize to encourage violence by blocking Jews going up to the Mount, including ministers and MKs who are supposed to have parliamentary immunity.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered Bareket to bar Feiglin from ascending the Mount in April. Since then, Feiglin has rebelled against the coalition in Knesset votes.