September 16, 2013 Monday 12 Tishri 5774
At Knesset Interior C'tee meeting, Tibi says attempt to change current situation will be seen as "a declaration of war."
There should be separate days for Jewish and Muslim prayer on the Temple Mount, Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev (Likud Beytenu) said Monday at a raucous meeting on the police's treatment of Jewish visitors to the holy site ahead of Sukkot.
"We will allow Jews to visit the Mount, and we don't want to disturb Muslims who are praying. Why doesn't the police decide that if Muslims don't allow Jews to visit without disturbances, we'll have days for Jews to access the Mount and days for Muslims," Regev suggested.
MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta'al) said Jewish visitors disturb Muslim worshipers, but the "occupation is temporary and the government in east Jerusalem is temporary."
"The crusaders passed, the British passed, and so will the Israelis," he added.
Tibi also warned that any change in the current situation on the Temple Mount will be seen as "a declaration of war" and set off violence.
"You need to use your judgment and think about whether you want to spark a fire in the most sensitive place in the region. [Former prime minister] Ariel Sharon's stupid surprise visit [in 2000] was enough to set off an Intifada," he claimed.
In 2001, Palestinian Communications Minister Imad al-Faluji told the Lebanese newspaper Al-Safir that "whoever thinks the intifada broke out because of the despised Sharon's visit to al-Aqsa Mosque is wrong…This Intifada was planned in advance."
Monday's meeting quickly deteriorated into a shouting match between the two Arab MKs present – Tibi and Taleb abu-Arar (UAL-Ta'al) – and everyone else.
MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud Beytenu), who rebelled against the coalition because he was banned from the Mount, decided to "review some history for MK abu-Arar: The First and Second Temple were on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for many years, when your ancestors were worshiping idols and the sun and the moon in Saudi Arabia or wherever."
"You think you were [in Israel] before us?" Arar asked incredulously.
"Yes, long before you," Feiglin retorted.
Temple Mount Heritage Foundation founder Yehuda Glick described limitations police set for him and other Jewish visitors at the Mount and the barrage of rocks thrown on Rosh Hashanna, when Arar interrupted.
"Why would Jews want to go to the Temple Mount, anyway?" he asked.
"Same thing as you, to pray," Regev retorted.
"I don't tell you that Mecca isn't holy. I don't tell you what's holy or not for your religion," Glick said. "The Temple Mount is the heart of the Jewish people."
Police Jerusalem District Commander Yossi Pariente described efforts to protect Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, including not allowing Muslims who planned to disturb Jewish prayer on the site, and arresting Islamic Movement northern branch leader Sheik Raed Salah for incitement and banning him from entering Jerusalem for 180 days.
On Rosh Hashanna, police arrested five Muslim men for throwing rocks at Jews on the Temple Mount, he added.
"If the police put in all this effort and Glick is still pelted with rocks when he visits the Temple Mount on a holiday and can only access a limited area of the site, isn't that a failure on the police's party?" Feiglin asked.
Feiglin also accused the police of "not knowing the facts" about the government policy on the Temple Mount, because Police Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino wrote in response to a letter from the MK that the Waqf, or Jordanian Islamic trust's, controls the site as a result of a government decision made in 1968.
"Can the police show me the government decision? No. There never was one," Feiglin stated. "The police is granting sovereignty over the Temple Mount to a body under Jordanian control without any government decision."
Feiglin also suggested that police close the Mount to Muslims during Sukkot so Jews can pray safely.
"The police is enacting a government policy," MK David Tsur (Hatnua) pointed out. "We need to have this discussion with the Religious Affairs Minister [Naftali Bennett] and the Prime Minister's Office, not the police."
MK Orit Struck (Bayit Yehudi) suggested that the police "make the minimum operative decision" to only allow Arab men over 45 to access the Temple Mount on Jewish holidays and to behave less roughly toward Jewish families with children approaching the site.
Arar insisted that "Jews have no reason to be on the al-Aqsa Mount" and claimed that there are rabbis who say the Temple was not in Jerusalem.
"It doesn't help you to shout 'it's mine, it's mine.' I can do the same thing. Let's look at the history books," MK Shuli Muallem (Bayit Yehudi) said. "Jews have the right to go to the Temple Mount! It's my right as much as it is Tibi's right, because we're people whose faiths say the Temple Mount is holy."
Regev closed the meeting by saying "nothing bad will happen if Jews, Muslims and Christians are all allowed to pray at a site that's holy to them."
"This is incitement," Tibi protested.
"We don't want to close the mosque or even pray there. We just want Jews to be able to up to the Temple Mount and pray without rocks being thrown at them. In a civilized country, everyone should be able to pray where they want. The status quo needs to change through dialogue," Regev stated.