Police detained Likud candidate Moshe Feiglin for attempting to pray aloud at the Temple Mount on Tuesday morning, the third time in the past year the activist has been detained on the site for similar offenses.
Police are considering whether to recommend Feiglin be served with an indictment for disorderly conduct and hindering a police officer from fulfilling his duties. Feiglin declined to comment about the prospective indictment.
An indictment would not bar Feiglin from running for Knesset. He would not have to quit the Knesset unless he is convicted and the charges against him are found to bear moral turpitude. If Feiglin is convicted and sentenced to at least three months in jail, he cannot be an MK for seven years unless the court rules that the charges do not bear moral turpitude.
According to police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby, Feiglin, who is No. 23 on the joint Likud Beytenu list, prostrated himself in the plaza and tried to pray out loud. Praying aloud, going through ritual motions or using any type of traditional prayer objects such as tefillin, tallitot or prayer books, are forbidden for Jews at Judaism’s holiest site due to tensions with Muslim worshipers at the Aksa Mosque.
Feiglin wrote on his Facebook page that he goes to the Temple Mount on the 19th of every Jewish month and that he bothered no one other than the undercover policeman who followed him and had him arrested. He said he refused to post bond, give fingerprints or take a mug shot as conditions for his release, and the police ultimately agreed.
“When I was questioned, I said I would provide any information requested, but I would not cooperate in any way with the police’s unfortunate policy of harming the liberties of those questioned unnecessarily,” Feiglin wrote. “This was a big victory in the battle for human rights in Israel. It did not surprise me that our right to the Temple Mount led to the good news about the liberties of Israeli citizens.”
“We all serve the king of the world whose divine spirit dwells here. We are not beholden, because we already have a king.”
Feiglin confirmed that the Likud had asked him to lay low and avoid interviews ahead of the election. He said he accepted the request, because his message was different than the messages his party was trying to put forward.
“It is ironic that I’m in the headlines anyway today, but apparently the director of the show had his own plans,” Feiglin said.
Feiglin’s detention did not require police to close the Temple Mount to visitors, and the rest of the day proceeded without incident.
Police have arrested Feiglin a number of times for attempting to pray on the Temple Mount, most recently on October 2.
Police arrested a total of five people in the incident: Feiglin and another Jewish worshiper, as well as three Muslim worshipers, who surrounded Feiglin’s group and started yelling “Allahu Akbar” (God is great). One of the Arabs was carrying a concealed knife, which is illegal on the Temple Mount.
In the October incident, Feiglin refused to sign the police restraining order prohibiting him from visiting the Temple Mount and was brought for a hearing at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court. The judge released him without any conditions.
Feiglin said he ascends to the Temple Mount on the 19th of every Hebrew month, and Tuesday was the 19th of Tevet according to the Jewish calendar.
In February, police prevented Feiglin from entering the Temple Mount after accusing him and other right-wing activists of attempting to disrupt order. A flyer aimed at members of the Likud Central Committee urged thousands of supporters to join Feiglin at the Temple Mount.
“Purify the site from the enemies of Israel who stole the land, and build the Third Temple on the ruins of the mosques,” the flyer read.
Insp.-Gen. Nisso Shaham, who was Jerusalem’s police chief at the time, closed the Temple Mount to all non-Muslim visitors on February 12 as a result of the announcement.
Melanie Lidman and Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.