(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said on Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is responsible for the police’s refusal of his request to visit the Temple Mount.
The Bayit Yehudi minister made his request after the Knesset Ethics Committee decided on Tuesday to lift the ban prohibiting MKs from entering the complex.
According to the committee’s decision, the only restriction on lawmakers regarding visiting the Temple Mount is that they coordinate ahead of time with the police.
Ariel submitted a request to the police, and was denied entry.
“The problem here is not the police,” Ariel said in an interview to Army Radio.
“The order was given by the prime minister, and the police volunteer to be his protective shield. I don’t understand why; they should be honest,” he said.
Ariel claimed that despite the Ethics Committee’s decision, the prime minister personally ordered the police to prevent ministers and MKs from entering the Temple Mount.
Police told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that “the request by Minister Uri Ariel to visit the Temple Mount was denied by the Jerusalem police chief.
It should be stressed that there is no change in policy regarding Knesset members’ visits on Temple Mount since the Knesset Ethics Committee discussion in November 2015.”
The committee’s decision then, in November 2015, was to ban MKs from visiting the Temple Mount, a decision taken after a wave of Muslim violence surrounding the contested site.
The Ethics Committee on Tuesday said that it decided to lift the ban after testimony by Jerusalem police head Asst.-Ch.
Yoram Halevy, who noted that the security situation on the Temple Mount has improved in recent months.
In June 2016 the committee convened to reconsider lifting the ban but decided to uphold it.
The committee also noted that it convened to discuss the issue due to a request made by MK Yehudah Glick (Likud).
Glick expressed his satisfaction with the committee’s decision.
“I am happy that the committee accepted my request and canceled the ban,” he said.
“I call on the wider public, including Knesset members, to visit the Temple Mount out of respect to the holiness of the place and to obey the security forces’ orders there. Only by doing so can we fulfill the destiny of the place as the global center for peace – ‘a house of prayer for all people.’”