Liberman slams MKs for Temple Mount visits as PM says Jerusalem status quo won't change

Foreign minister to Israeli politicians: Don’t inflame the situation with sovereignty calls

November 6, 2014 11:09
4 minute read.
Muslims pray at Temple Mount

Muslims pray at Temple Mount. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The status quo on the Temple Mount won’t change, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday night during late emergency security consultations on the growing violence in Jerusalem.

Israel in the past day has sent diplomatic messages to governments around the world with this message.

“Anyone who says otherwise is representing his own opinion, not that of the government,” Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev said on Thursday morning.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Army Radio that Israeli politicians should not inflame the situation at the Temple Mount by calling for Jews to be able to pray there.

“If you have paid attention, neither I, nor members of my party have gone up to the Temple Mount. We have not issued calls for Israel to exercise sovereignty there,” Liberman said of his Yisrael Beytenu Party.

He spoke to Army Radio on Thursday morning after a number of Israeli right-wing politicians from the Bayit Yehudi and the Likud parties have made public visits to Al-Aksa Mosque compound in past weeks. They called for Israel to impose sovereignty there and to allow Jewish prayer at the site. 

“Our problem is that people who incite and who shout, are those who do not do. They only know how to light a flame and to exploit a situation for their own political gains,” Liberman said.

“I am in favor of wise policy. I am in favor of acting and not shouting,” Liberman said. “You have to act wisely in this region,” he said.

“What needs to happen now, is for calm to be restored [in Jerusalem],” said Liberman.

The Aksa Mosque compound is under the control of the Jerusalem Islamic Wakf. Under this arrangement, only Muslims can pray in the compound, but Jews and Christians can visit the area which is right on top of the Western Wall.

But the Palestinians, the Jordanians and others in the Arab world are concerned that Israel might make such changes. Jordan on Wednesday recalled its Ambassador Walid Obeidat to Amman to protest Israeli actions on the Temple Mount.

“We are sorry that they took this step,” Liberman said. He charged that those with extremist Islamic views, who also pose a danger to Jordan, were spreading false stories about Israeli actions at the compound.

Liberman spoke after violence between Israeli Arabs and Jews has rocked the capital, particularly around the Old City and the Temple Mount. As a result there were two vehicular terror attacks on Wednesday, one in Jerusalem by the light rail in which a Border Policeman was killed and 13 others injured, including three seriously. The second attack occurred in Gush Etzion, in which three soldiers were injured.

Last Wednesday, an Israeli-Arab attempted to assassinate right wing activist Yehuda Glick who has long argued for Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount.

In response Israel closed the Aksa Mosque compound to Muslim worshipers for one day last Thursday and again for 15 minutes early Wednesday morning.

Liberman told Army Radio in order to restore calm to Jerusalem and to halt further terror attacks, Israel must start demolishing the homes of those terrorists.

MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud), one of the most active MKs fighting for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, said that those who "point their finger at public representatives who follow the law and want to maintain Israeli sovereignty at the heart of its capital…are giving a prize to terrorism and guarantee its escalation."

Feiglin said by this logic, first prime minister David Ben-Gurion was a pyromaniac for declaring the establishment of the State of Israel and bringing the War of Independence.

"Israeli society needs to decide if it is willing to pay the price for maintaining sovereignty over the Temple Mount and the entire land," he added. "The weakness being shown in dealing with the Temple Mount reflects on the whole country."

Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who visited the Temple Mount this week, said Liberman does not understand that the Palestinians want to change the status quo on the holy site and forbid Jews from ever entering.

"It is not acceptable that representatives of the Jewish majority in Israel agree to losing Israeli sovereignty and discrimination in the holiest place for the Jewish People," she stated.

MK Merav Michaeli (Labor) told Israel Radio that "even Liberman understands that ministers and MKs ascending the Temple Mount is a stupid act that poisons the atmosphere. The Israeli government must understand this, take responsibility and do what is necessary to stop the violence in Jerusalem before it leaks out of Jerusalem and spreads to the rest of the country."

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