Israelis must continue to ascend the Temple Mount and demand the right to pray there, MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi) said after police arrested a Muslim woman who allegedly shoved her on the Temple Mount Monday.
“I went up to the Mount, and I when I got to the open area near the mosque there were women yelling ‘Allahu akbar’ and following me. When I went up the stairs, the women yelled at me to leave. One stood in my way and wouldn’t let me walk forward, and when I tried to walk, she shoved me,” Moalem-Refaeli told The Jerusalem Post hours later.
A video of the incident shows Moalem walking silently on the Mount with Bayit Yehudi faction administrator Uri Bank and a bodyguard, when she is approached by the suspect, who was shouting “Allahu akbar” and allegedly trying to physically attack her. Police then grab the woman.
Moalem was not injured and submitted complaints to the police and Knesset security, as she was instructed by police on the spot.
The Bayit Yehudi MK ascends the Temple Mount almost every month, and said she does not think this defies Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request that MKs show restraint in the controversy over the site.
“I don’t plan to stop. I think the response to the horrible assassination attempt [of Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick last week] should be to increase rights of Jews on the Temple Mount, not to go backwards,” she stated.
According to Moalem, the fight to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount has two elements: religious, because it is the holiest place in Judaism, yet Jews are not allowed to worship there; and nationalist, in that the government should extend its sovereignty to the site.
“We have a responsibility to go up to the Temple Mount as much as possible,” she said.
Moalem described a three-pronged battle for the right to worship on the Mount.
First, to change Israeli public opinion by talking about the Mount and explaining its religious and national significance to as many people as possible.
Second, to increase the number of Jews ascending the Temple Mount and to demand the right to pray there.
“I think the Temple Mount is a place for prayer for all those who want to go there– Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or anyone else,” Moalem said. “If enough people want to pray, the government will have to respond.”
Third, to submit appropriate motions on the issue to the Knesset agenda and to continue discussions in the Interior Committee with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch.
Moalem also expressed hope that the Interior Committee would be allowed to visit the Temple Mount, which police have thus far refused.
“This is a process,” she said. “We talk, we aren’t populist and don’t respond to attempts to harm us and convince us to leave the Temple Mount. We continue to say we have a right to pray in the holiest place for Jews. Our national and religious rights must be expressed. God willing, more people will join this process.”
Following the confrontation with the MK, police said they would “show zero tolerance, will not allow acts of violence against visitors to the Mount, and will stop anyone behaving violently.”
Moalem’s visit came five days after an Arab terrorist shot and seriously wounded Glick, and a day after Netanyahu attempted to ease tensions surrounding the site, holy to both Jews and Muslims, by clarifying that Muslims could continue to pray at the Aksa Mosque and that Israel has no plans to harm it.