Yochanan Danino and Bentzi Sau.
(photo credit: BEN HARTMAN)
Acting Police Commissioner Asst.-Ch. Bentzi Sau has banned visits from MKs to the Temple Mount, saying in a letter on Monday that in light of the security situation, allowing the visits would only risk inflaming the situation further.
In a letter sent to Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein on Monday, Sau said, “I believe that visits by MKs to the Temple Mount at this point will increase the tension on the mount, tension which in all likelihood would have an effect on the security situation of the entire country.”
Sau said that since the tension on the Temple Mount “has led to rioting and deadly terror attacks which we have seen recently in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the rest of Israel,” he has decided to ban visits by MKs until further notice. Sau said he made the decision after consulting with security officials and the attorney-general’s office.
In the letter, which was also sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein and others, Sau vowed that once the security situation calms down and the tension tapers off, he would lift the ban.
The Knesset Ethics Committee voted to uphold the ban, stating that from Monday until further notice, visiting the Temple Mount will be considered an ethics violation that carries sanctions, and citing the ethics rule that MKs are supposed to act for the good of the country.
MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) opposed the decision, saying that no violations of parliamentary immunity should be authorized, and that MKs’ visits to the compound should be considered individually, should there be an ethics complaint about one.
However, most of the committee said that this case was an extreme exception to the rule, which justifies straying from its usual protection of parliamentary immunity, in light of Sau’s letter.
The ban follows one enacted by Netanyahu last month, which the prime minister said was the result of consultations with defense and security experts who said it could help quell the rising wave of Palestinian violence.
Senior policy-makers recommended the ban to avoid a “dangerous provocation” that could set off a “powder keg.”