(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein lashed out at Police Inspector-General Yohanan Danino on Wednesday for speaking out against Knesset members ascending the Temple Mount.
At the Sderot Conference on Tuesday, Danino said it was a mistake to allow MKs to go up to the site, especially legislators who support changing the status quo on the Temple Mount.
“Since the last election, we have seen right-wing extremists adopting an agenda of changing the status quo on the Temple Mount,” Danino said. “We have an obligation to enforce the policy of all governments since 1967 against changing the status quo. All statements about changing the law and the status quo, even if they are not likely to be put into practice, do something in the Muslim world.”
Edelstein wrote Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch saying that such statements were unacceptable and that Danino as an appointed official cannot restrict the rights of MKs. He asked Aharonovitch to make clear to Danino that he had overstepped a redline.
“Despite the tension in and out of Jerusalem, I think such statements are grave and unfitting to be said by a police inspector-general against publicly elected representatives,” Edelstein wrote. “We cannot accept a government employee, no matter how high up, casting in doubt the freedom of movement of elected officials who have [parliamentary] immunity and rights, including the right to ascend to the Temple Mount according to the law. Giving such advice is not his job.”
Edelstein said Jews ascending the Mount were not creating provocations and that the holy site has merely been used as an excuse for terrorist attacks. He expressed hope that the police will succeed in protecting Israel’s land, state and citizens.
Danino responded that he did not regret his statements and would not withdraw them.
He said he had an obligation to warn against Knesset members who have caused tension by visiting the Temple Mount and boasting about it in traditional and social media.
“Their behavior could endanger the public and its security and I cannot permit it,” Danino said.
He said he has acted in full coordination with Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein and State Attorney Shai Nitzan.