On the heels of a US State Department report delineating Israeli policy barring non-Muslims from praying on the Temple Mount, MK Arieh Eldad (National Union) has drafted a bill mandating separate hours for Jews and Muslims to pray at the holy site.
“The Temple Mount is the holiest place for the Jewish People, where the First and Second Temple stood,” Eldad explained. “It is also a holy place for Muslims, and is the site of the Aksa Mosque. It also has a special status in Christianity.” As such, the National Union MK seeks to anchor in legislation for freedom of worship at the Temple Mount for all three religions.
The bill, which has yet to be officially submitted because the Knesset is on an extended summer recess, states that the site must be open to Jews every day, except for Friday, the Muslim holy day, and on other Muslim holidays. It would be open to Muslims every day except for Saturdays and Jewish holidays.
Jews would be allowed to worship on the Temple Mount from 8-11 a.m., 2-6 p.m. and 9-11 p.m. Muslims could pray at the site from 4-7 a.m., 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.
Christian and other tourists’ visiting hours would overlap with some of the Jewish and Muslim hours.
If Muslim and Jewish holidays fall on the same day, the bill calls for the Religious Services Ministry to establish a special schedule.
The US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report was released to Congress and the public two weeks ago.
The report points out that all non-Muslims are denied opportunities to worship at the Temple Mount, for security concerns.