Joint List MK Basel Ghattas ascends Temple Mount despite Netanyahu's ban

Ghattas said that he was able to enter the compound "smoothly and naturally," and that he visited all of its different areas.

October 28, 2015 10:54
2 minute read.

Joint List MK Basel Ghattas ascends Temple Mount despite Netanyahu's ban

Joint List MK Basel Ghattas ascends Temple Mount despite Netanyahu's ban


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MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List) ascended the Temple Mount Wednesday, even though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered police to bar legislators from visiting the holy site.

Ghattas said that he was able to enter the compound "smoothly and naturally," and that he visited all of its different areas.

"Visiting Al-Aksa is my basic and elementary right," Ghattas, who is Christian, stated. "We completely reject Netanyahu's decision to prevent us form entering Al-Aksa. The occupation regime does not give Netanyahu and his government authority over the Al-Aksa Mosque or over the occupied territories in general."

People of all religions are allowed to visit the Temple Mount, but only Muslims are permitted to pray there, according to the rules of the Jordanian Wakf, which manages the site, that are enforced by police. Netanyahu reaffirmed on Saturday night his commitment to maintaining these rules and install security cameras on the Mount, following discussion with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Jordanian King Abdullah.

Ghattas also claimed that he documented religious Jews praying and singing on the mount while police stood by and did not stop them. His spokesman did not respond to requests to see the documentation.

A Police Spokesman said they "implement government decisions regarding the Temple Mount and do all they can to ensure that visitors and worshippers on the Temple Mount will maintain the holiness of the place and act respectably and responsibly in the holy and sensitive public space."

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein called in the plenum for MKs not to ascend the Temple Mount in response to Ghattas' actions.

"Enough, enough, enough! We don't have to wait until there is bloodshed. One can be an MK without being a pyromaniac," Edelstein said from the podium.

As for whether parliamentary immunity should nullify the order for lawmakers not to visit the Temple Mount, Edelstein said that security officials explained to him why MKs visiting the holy site is dangerous, and he does not oppose the ban.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that "MKs who sneak on to the Temple Mount are contemptible...This is incitement that can lead to the murder of innocent people."

"There is a status-quo that worked well for years," Erdan added. "Maybe it is not the optimal situation, but it works. Muslims pray, and Jews and other people can visit."

Erdan said that public officials should not be permanently banned from the Temple Mount, but the order should remain in place until the current wave of terrorism ends.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said that Ghattas was trying to fuel the flames of terrorism at a sensitive time.

"It is very problematic that the prime minister is not maintaining his decision to prohibit politicians from ascending the Temple Mount," he said.

According to Herzog, Ghattas and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who said on Monday that she dreams of seeing the Israeli Flag wave on the Temple Mount, and Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan, who called on the government to exercise sovereignty on the Mount, are "endangering Israel's security and the prime minister is just standing by."

"Israel needs a leader today, not a weak prime minister," Herzog stated.

The Knesset is expected to discuss a motion to the agenda by Ghattas on Wednesday, regarding his opposition to installing video cameras on the Temple Mount.

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