The Religious Services Ministry is working on ways to allow Jews to pray on the
Temple Mount, ministry directorgeneral Elhanan Glatt said Wednesday.
Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee held a special meeting on
prayer at the Temple Mount, in honor of Jerusalem Day.
Glatt told the
committee his office will examine ways to arrange Jewish prayer on the Temple
“It cannot be that in the State of Israel, Jews need to stand
aside,” said committee chairwoman Miri Regev. “The Temple Mount should be a
place where people of any religion can pray.”
According to Regev, the
Temple Mount is a mainstream issue in the heart of the Jewish People, who have
prayed to return to Jerusalem for thousands of years.
At the beginning of
the meeting, MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) and other Arab lawmakers complained that
the screening of a short film of paratroopers liberating the Temple Mount and
Western Wall from the Jordanians was offensive, and demanded it be
MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud Beytenu), who has been voting against
the coalition in response to recently being banned from visiting the Temple
Mount by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, said the main issue is sovereignty
over the Temple Mount.
“The Wakf’s problem isn’t prayer, but the
sovereign symbolism of prayer,” Feiglin explained. “As far as they are
concerned, [Jewish prayer] eats away at the total Muslim rule over the Temple
According to MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), every person of any
religion has the right to pray in the places he or she considers holy. Zandberg
said she agrees with Feiglin that this is an issue of sovereignty, adding that
Jews will only be able to pray in the places holy to them after the occupation
ends and Jerusalem is divided.
MK Ibrahim Sarsour (United Arab
List-Ta’al) asked why Jews cannot pray somewhere other than at al-Aksa
“Jews in Israel need to understand that one day Jerusalem will
return to Palestinians and Muslims,” Sarsour added. “The solution is to maintain
the status quo.”
MK Taleb Abu Arar (UALTa’al) said the issue is more
religious than political, and echoed Sarsour’s call to continue the current
“It is a basic right of every Israeli citizen to go up to the
Temple Mount,” Regev said, concluding the meeting. “The State of Israel must
protect this right. Freedom of religion and worship are anchored in our basic
laws, and as a sovereign state, we must protect them.”
Regev added that
her committee will follow the Religious Services Ministry’s efforts to allow
Jews to pray on the Temple Mount.