Right-wing politicians call on PM to reverse Temple Mount ban on Jews

Chief Rabbi Yosef: Jewish visitation to Temple Mount is forbidden, ban should be in force year round.

August 11, 2019 10:46
2 minute read.
Muslim worshippers on Temple Mount as police barred Jewish entrance on Tisha Be'av

Muslim worshippers on Temple Mount as police barred Jewish entrance on Tisha Be'av. (photo credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

Right-wing politicians and parties have strongly denounced the decision to close the Temple Mount to Jews and other non-Muslims today, the Jewish fast of Tisha Be’av commemorating the destruction of the two Temples of antiquity in Jerusalem, blaming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the decision and calling on him to reverse it.

Police barred Jews from entering the Temple Mount on Sunday since it coincides with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, the "Festival of Sacrifice,” and wanted to prevent friction at the holy site.

United Right leader Ayelet Shaked called on the government to change the decision, saying on Army Radio that the Temple Mount “needs to be open to everyone,” and that it was  “important on this day for Jews to enter the area.”

Likud MK and former mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat addressed the police commander of the Jerusalem district in a statement he wrote on Twitter, saying that the consideration for Muslim worshipers was “appropriate,” but said that it should not come at the expense of “the determination of the police and protecting the accepted status quo” at the site. 

“We must continue to allow Jews to go up the Temple Mount," said Barkat. "Exercise your authority and do not capitulate to violence.”

Senior United Right MK and Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich said it was “shameful and disgraceful” that the Temple Mount was close to Jews on Tisha Be’av.

“The decision to capitulate to Arab terrorism and violence at the holiest place for the Jewish people is the root of the loss off deterrence in other areas,” said Smotrich.

The United Right put out a statement describing the situation as a “national disgrace,” and called on Netanyahu to reverse the decision.

“The mount is the holiest place for the Jewish people," the statement said. "We call on the prime minister: change your decision. Open the Temple Mount to Jews.”  

Senior leader of the far-right party Otzma Yehudit Itamar Ben-Gvir also described the decision to close the site to Jews as “Capitulation and surrender,” which he said “only gives a tailwind to terrorism.”

Ben-Gvir accused the police of “carrying out apartheid policies by banning Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and praying there just because they are Jews,” and said that the police needed wholesale change.

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, however, welcomed the decision to close the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors, in line with the Chief Rabbinate’s long standing position against Jews visiting the holy site.

Most ultra-Orthodox rabbis, such as Yosef, and many religious-Zionist rabbis prohibit Jews from going to the Temple Mount out of concern that they will stray into areas which Jewish law says are off-limits without the requisite purification ceremonies that are unavailable today.

“The ascent of Jews to the Temple Mount is forbidden according to Jewish law at the essence of the prohibition, and it is appropriate that the ascent of Jews be prohibited all year-round," said Yosef.

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