For the first time in almost two years Knesset Members were allowed to enter the Temple Mount compound. MKs Yehudah Glick (Likud) and Shuli Moalem-Refaeli were the only MKs who took advantage of the one-day pilot, and visited the site on Tuesday morning.
MK Glick enters Temple Mount for the first time in two years (Udi Shacham)
Since 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has prevented MKs from entering the compound.
Accompanied by security forces, Glick and Moalem-Refaeli ascended the Mughrabi Gate bridge - the only entrance for Jews to Temple Mount - and toured the compound.
After leaving the site, Glick, who was prominent Temple Mount activist before becoming an MK, stated that his last visit was the same day he became a lawmaker. He then shared his thoughts from the visit.
“I hope that this place will fulfill its destiny to be a house for worldwide peace,” he said.
“When I was up there I was thinking about the Israeli society; I wish that we could close the gaps [between society groups] and be less polarized. I was praying for my wife and children and for world peace,” he said.
Moalem-Refaeli said that she was saddened by the tight supervision of the Wakf Islamic trust forces who followed her during the visit.
“I can’t understand why… This is the holiest place for the Jewish people, and I couldn’t pray there. The only prayer I had to god was in my heart,” she said.
However, Moalem-Refaeli thanked the Israel Police, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked for dealing with the phenomenon of the Murabitat and Murabitun Islamic groups that were harassing Jewish visitors on Temple Mount in the past.
“After two years in which I wasn't on Temple Mount - there’s no yelling [at our groups],” she said. “It is well noticed. You can walk around quietly, listen to your surroundings. It really allows you to feel that you are in a holy site.”
At the entrance to the Mughrabi Gate bridge a small group of left-wing activists gathered to protest against the MKs entering the compound.
They held signs saying “Lunatics, get off the mountain,” suggesting that a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount could spark violence.
Laura Wharton (Meretz-Labor), opposition leader in the Jerusalem City Council, told The Jerusalem Post
that in her opinion, Jewish MKs entering the Temple Mount is a selfish and irresponsible act.
“Even if he [Glick] is saying that he wants to go up [to the site] and pray for his own personal reasons, as a public figure, he has the responsibility for the repercussion of what he does.
“He is endangering the general public in what he’s doing,” she added.
Glick refused to argue with the activists and wished them a happy new year.
Some lawmakers, who would be interested in visiting the Mount under other circumstances, boycotted the one-day pilot.
MK Ahmed Tibi, head of the Joint List’s Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Committee, said the faction would not go to al-Aksa Mosque “in the framework of a provocation and under the conditions set by Netanyahu and the police.”
“Arab MKs will enter whenever they want and not when Netanyahu wants. That is how it was in the past, and how it will be in the future,” Tibi stated. “Arab MKs enter their mosque, but the right-wing extremist MKs beak into the mosque under the sponsorship of the Israeli government and police, and they are the ones who are seeking to change the status quo and be allowed to pray in the area of the mosque. The world sees who is inciting.”
Bayit Yehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich said he is not willing to ascend the Mount “like a thief in the night.”
“The Temple Mount is the holiest place for the Jewish People and the State of Israel must exercise its sovereignty there,” he stated.
The conditions set for MKs to be allowed on the Temple Mount were written in a “humiliating” letter by Knesset Security, Smotrich argued, saying they are “illegal, undemocratic and unacceptable.”
“This bizarre pilot…which is practically begging rioters to riot, is a new low that is unacceptable,” Smotrich added.
Knesset Security instructed Muslim and non-Muslim MKs to ascend the Mount at separate times, and forbade them from giving speeches or media interviews while there.