November 26, 2013 Tuesday 23 Kislev 5774
by Jeremy Sharon
“Just because some Muslims throw stones when Jews go up to the Temple Mount is not a reason to prevent them from going."
MK Miri Regev, chairwoman of the Knesset Interior Committee, instructed police on Monday to ensure that Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount will be able to go up to the site unimpeded by police or Arab demonstrators.
“Just because some Muslims throw stones when Jews go up to the Temple Mount is not a reason to prevent them from going, as happened over Succot,” Regev told police Ch.-Supt. Avi Biton during the committee hearing.
“Police must allow Jews to go up to the site on Hanukka,” she continued. “Special arrangements are made for Muslim prayer there during Ramadan and similar arrangements must be made for Jewish visits on Jewish holidays.”
Jewish groups and activists who regularly visit the Temple Mount frequently complain that the police do not treat them appropriately and hamper their wishes to go up to the site, especially on Jewish festivals.
“For me, the festival of Hanukka represents the time that Jews stood up for their freedom and equality,” said Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a spokesman and activist for the Joint Association of Temple Organizations group. “We don’t want to harm or disturb anyone, but simply wish to pray at Judaism’s holiest site, while the police are hostile to, and continue to humiliate, Jewish visitors.”
Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, who has been active on the issue for many years, said activists should not direct complaints at police, since they only carry out the government’s wishes. Feiglin, who was personally banned by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from visiting the Temple Mount, said the problem is one of government policy, not police actions.
Bayit Yehudi MK Zvulun Kalfa also spoke at the hearing, describing the situation as one of “national importance,” and saying it was “unbelievable that Jewish people cannot get access to their holiest place.”
Previous hearings on the issue in the Knesset Interior Committee have led to fierce and vitriolic shouting matches between right-wing MKs and Arab lawmakers. Although the tone was relatively calm on Monday, tempers still flared on occasion.
MK Masud Gnaim of the UAL-Ta’al party said Israel has no sovereign rights to the Temple Mount since it is “occupied territory,” and the entire compound is part of al- Aksa Mosque.
“This place is holy to hundreds of millions of Muslims and not Jews,” Gnaim said. He also argued that Muslim prayer rights were similarly infringed, since the Western Wall area is holy for holy Muslims and claimed they are prevented from praying there.
In response, Regev said there was no hindrance to Muslims praying at the Western Wall.