MK Yehuda Glick leaving Temple Mount, August 23, 2017..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Police on Wednesday prevented MKs Yehudah Glick (Likud) and Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi) from defying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ban on lawmaker visits to the Temple Mount.
The MKs were stopped in their tracks while ascending a bridge near the Mugrabi Gate entrance to the Mount. A local policeman told them he was carrying out an order to prevent them from entering the site.
“Don’t make a provocation [by coming here],” a policeman told Glick.
While waiting on the bridge, Glick criticized the police for carrying out orders he blamed on Netanyahu. The prime minister has barred lawmaker visits to the site since October 2015, at the height of a series of lone-wolf stabbing attacks.
“The police should not be receiving orders from the prime minister,” Glick said. “If the prime minister could give orders to the police, he could also ask them not to investigate his cases.”
“The police in Israel needs to enforce the law, and to make sure that Knesset members are getting the legal immunity that they are entitled to,” he added.
Glick called on Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to intervene in the situation.
“It is unacceptable that people from all over the world – Jews, Christians and Muslims – can enter the Temple Mount, but the MKs are forbidden,” he said. “This measure is unlawful, and even the Knesset Ethics Committee said so. I hope that Edelstein will stand by our side and defend our legal immunity.”
After some 20 minutes of arguing with police, Glick and Moalem-Refaeli turned around and went back to the security checkpoint.
Glick stressed there that he wishes to restore the status quo agreement that was implemented until two years ago, under which MKs were allowed to enter the compound.
“If we had wanted to, we could have pushed ourselves inside and no one would have stopped us,” he said. “We respected the police’s request [and turned around]. But our sense of responsibility should not be exploited to harm us.”
Moalem-Refaeli said a situation in which Jews are limited in their ability to visit their holiest site is “twisted at its base” and stressed that her intentions are not to fan the flames.
“We didn’t cause agitation by going to the Temple Mount,” she said. “We went up for Jewish sovereignty reasons, and we don’t want conflict with anyone going up.”
Moalem-Refaeli added that she expects the prime minister to suspend this restriction and allow MKs to visit Temple Mount.
Israeli media reported in July that Netanyahu had plans to lift the ban for a trial period, but the idea was never implemented, due to riots sparked by controversy over metal detectors installed at the entrances to the Temple Mount following a terrorist attack in which two Israeli policemen were killed.