In a move certain to inflame tensions within his own party, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday banned fellow Likud member Moshe Feiglin from
entering the Temple Mount, citing security concerns.
“Several minutes ago
I received a phone call from Cmdr. Moshe Bareket, who informed me that due to a
direct order from the prime minister, I will not be allowed entrance to the
[Temple] Mount tomorrow,” Feiglin wrote on his Facebook page Sunday
“The prime minister has no legal authority to give such an
order, as it contradicts the [Israeli constitution],” said Feiglin, who goes to
the Temple Mount on the 19th of every Jewish month.
Although the Supreme
Court has upheld Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount, the court allows the
police to prevent prayer and other forms of worship if they believe that such
activity will cause a disturbance of public order.
Indeed, according to a
source at the Prime Minister’s Office who requested anonymity, Netanyahu’s
decision to ban Feiglin from visiting the holy site was made in conjunction with
security personnel and Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein.
briefed by security services and learning that there is a real threat to public
security, it was decided not to authorize MK Feiglin to visit the Temple Mount,”
the official said. “That decision took place in coordination with the attorney
In a phone interview Monday afternoon, Feiglin said he was
dubious of the prime minister’s security rationale.
national security is a nice way to hide the truth, which no one can run away
from – and that is that the government of Israel has handed over Israel
sovereignty to the Muslim Wakf,” said Feiglin, referring to the religious body
that oversees the Temple Mount.
“If the Wakf can decide who can go on the
Temple Mount and who cannot, and the prime minister goes along with it, it means
that Israel gave away sovereignty on the Temple Mount to [them].
no other way to understand it.”
Feiglin asserted that despite numerous
previous altercations with security personnel at the site, he posed no security
threat, and that by barring him, Netanyahu is ostensibly capitulating to the
“I can understand if there were [imminent] threats
or rioting why [Netanyahu] would want me not to go there, but when that’s not
the case, and you’re saying it a day before [I go], you’re crumbling from
threats,” he said.
“Here comes a member of Knesset with all the rights
and laws behind him to go to the Temple Mount and the Muslim Wakf threatens the
Israeli government and the government [in turn] becomes a servant of the Wakf,”
“There’s a famous quote we had in the 1967 War, which
was that the Temple Mount was in our hands when we liberated Jerusalem, and it’s
not true anymore,” he said.
The Likud MK added that he was particularly
troubled by Weinstein’s collaboration with Netanyahu in the
“It’s ridiculous to me because I didn’t hear a single word
about how this [demand] can be carried out from a legal point of view,” said
Feiglin. “Instead [Weinstein] attacked me with lies by trying to say my behavior
is what brought about the decision. But he didn’t say what was illegal about my
behavior. And considering his behavior, he should be the last person criticizing
In a letter to Netanyahu, the Joint Management of Temple Mount
Organizations beseeched the prime minister Monday to immediately revoke the
order preventing Feiglin from going to the site.
“We fear that this step
will give our enemies the tools to continue their incitement to violence and the
violation of the Jewish freedom of worship in our capital,” the letter
It continued, “If you think there is a fear that his ascent to
the Temple Mount would endanger the public order, it is required that you
instruct the numerous security personnel who are scattered all over the Temple
Mount area to provide MK Moshe Feiglin with full protection of his liberty and
of his immunity as a member of the Knesset.”
In response to the
controversy, Likud-Beytenu coalition chairman Yariv Levin’s spokesman issued a
statement supporting Feiglin’s right to visit the Temple Mount.
turned to the Knesset today to find an arrangement that will ensure that any MK
can exercise his right, under immunity, to go anywhere in Israel, including the
Temple Mount,” it said.