September 12, 2013 Thursday 8 Tishri 5774
by Jeremy Sharon
The tours will be conducted in accordance with Jewish law, which strictly defines the areas of the compound which can be entered.
The educational and activist group The Temple Institute has teamed up with the right-wing Manhigut Yehudit movement to offer tours of the Temple Mount over Succot to visitors from abroad.
According to the group, the tours will be conducted in accordance with Jewish law, which strictly defines the areas of the compound which can be entered by Jews. Some authorities, including the Chief Rabbinate, say that entry to the Temple Mount is prohibited by Jewish law, although the Temple Institute and others hotly dispute this ruling.
Access for Jews and other non- Muslims is restricted 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 which administers the area.
The Temple Institute said in a statement they have worked tirelessly in moving closer to rebuilding the Third Temple and that they “invite all those that have come to spend Succot in Jerusalem to join us on a unique Temple Experience.”
Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, who heads Manhigut Yehudit and who has advocated for increased Jewish access to the Temple Mount for many years, welcomed the initiative and will address participants after the tours.
The site is a hotbed for controversy, and just last week an egalitarian prayer section of the Western Wall was condemned by a Jordanian government official as a “blatant attack on Muslim Monuments,” Jordan’s Petra news agency quoted minister for media affairs Muhammad Momani as saying.
The Jordanian Islamic Trust insists on upholding the restrictions on non-Muslim access and prayer.
In two incidents last week, Arab worshipers threw stones at non-Muslim visitors to the site, prompting riot police to enter the compound and disperse the instigators.
In a recent interview with Israeli media, Israel Police Insp.- Gen. Yohanan Danino claimed that “free access” was in place at the site and said that “any Jew who wants to pray on the Temple Mount can pray on the Temple Mount – but in the time slots that have been established.”
The Joint Committee of Temple Organizations, a lobbying and activist group for Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount, subsequently called on the Jerusalem Police District Commander to allow Jewish prayer in the compound in accordance with Danino’s comments.
Several MKs, including chairwoman of the Knesset Committee for the Interior Miri Regev, have expressed support for Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount and promised to work toward that goal.