September 15, 2013 Sunday 11 Tishri 5774
by Jeremy Sharon
Groups lobby for Jewish prayer rights at Temple Mount during Succot after lack of access during Rosh Hashana.
The Knesset Interior Committee scheduled a hearing for Monday regarding preparations for Jewish visitation to the Temple Mount over Succot.
Groups lobbying for Jewish prayer rights at the site criticized the lack of access afforded to them over Rosh Hashana and are demanding that Jewish visits over Succot be enabled by police.
Access was restricted on the first day of Rosh Hashana and the site was closed on the second day to Jewish and other non-Muslim visitors when non-Muslims are generally not given access.
In general, access for Jews and other non-Muslims 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.
MK and Deputy Knesset Speaker Moshe Feiglin, a longtime Temple Mount prayer rights advocate, is insisting that, in light of the problems encountered over Rosh Hashana, police must prepare adequately for Jewish access over Succot.
The MK highlighted specifically the closure of the Temple Mount to Jews and non-Muslims over the last two weeks of Ramadan. In light of this policy, exclusive Jewish access should be provided by police during Succot, he argued.
Feiglin also intends to publicly question the legality of the Wakf and its authority to administer the Temple Mount.
He recently sent a letter to the police, asking for clarification regarding the legal authority of the body, and subsequently challenged the reply that a government decision taken after the Six Day War authorized the Wakf to continue running the site.
“To the best of my knowledge, there is no such decision, and from a reading of the words of the ministerial committee in 1968, it is clear that they thought there was no such agreement,” Feiglin wrote to Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino.
Feiglin quoted then-justice minister Yaakov Shimshon Shapira, who said at a committee meeting in June 1968: “We never announced that the entirety of the Temple Mount belongs to the Arabs.
We never announced that it is forbidden for Jews to pray there. We never announced that it is forbidden for Jews to establish a synagogue there.”
Feiglin wrote that in the absence of such a decision, “all directives which discriminate between Muslims and non- Muslims regarding entrance to the [Temple] Mount should be immediately rescinded, and free entrance from all gates to the Mount be enabled, in accordance with the law.”
The MK also demanded that all Wakf stewards be removed from the site and raised questions about the Wakf’s legal status – questions, which he plans to raise at Monday’s committee hearing.
Feiglin claims the Wakf is not a registered institute in any state framework and therefore does not pay the appropriate taxes and national insurance contributions as required by law.
“It seems to me that this is a badge of shame for the Israel Police force to cooperate with this criminal organization and for its police officers to respond to the whims of its officials,” wrote Feiglin.