Following PM's orders not to talk about Temple Mount, Hotovely cancels press briefing

Deputy FM caused a stir when she said that “it’s my dream to see the Israeli flag flying on the Temple Mount.”

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October 27, 2015 17:00
3 minute read.
Temple Mount

Tzipi Hotovely visits Temple Mount. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely took a pounding Tuesday from opposition MKs, in addition to words of displeasure from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for saying she dreams of seeing an Israeli flag over the Temple Mount.

Late Monday night, after Hotovely’s comments from a Knesset Channel interview were aired, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that “the policy of the government of Israel regarding the Temple Mount was expressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his statement Saturday night, and nothing has changed.

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Prime Minister Netanyahu made it clear that he expects all members of the government to act accordingly.”

In his Saturday night statement, Netanyahu reaffirmed Israel’s “commitment to upholding unchanged the status quo of the Temple Mount, in word and in practice,” and said that Israel “has no intention to divide the Temple Mount, and we completely reject any attempt to suggest otherwise.”
Likud's Tzipi Hotovely visits Temple Mount

The prime minister also said that “Israel will continue to enforce its longstanding policy: Muslims pray on the Temple Mount; non-Muslims visit the Temple Mount.”

Netanyahu has been saying to the world for months that Israel has no intention of changing the status quo at the site, and has in the past repeatedly asked his ministers to refrain from making pronouncements about the issue.

But Hotovely, in her interview on Monday, said that the Temple Mount was the “center of Israeli sovereignty, the capital of Israel, the holiest place for the Jewish people,” and that “it’s my dream to see the Israeli flag flying on the Temple Mount.”



She also repeated her position that Jews should be allowed to pray there.

After Netanyahu released his statement, Hotovely issued a clarification, saying that her “personal opinion is not the policy of the government,” adding that she was “bound by the policies” on the issue expressed by Netanyahu on Saturday night.

She also canceled a previously scheduled briefing Wednesday for the foreign press at the Jerusalem Press Club.

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, asked on Army Radio whether he dreamed that the Israeli flag would fly over the Temple Mount, said it should certainly fly there, but he did not say at exactly which spot on the site.

“This is like every place where Israel is the sovereign, it is a part of the State of Israel,” he said.

Ben-Dahan, who said that after consulting with his rabbis he personally does not go to the Temple Mount, added that he certainly dreams that the Temple will be rebuilt there. “I do think that Jews need to [be able] go the Temple Mount, and have the right to pray on the Temple Mount. There is no harm in that.”

When told that this policy runs counter to that of Netanyahu, Ben-Dahan said “I remind you that this is the decision of the prime minister, not of the government.” Ben-Dahan said that after the Six Day War, when Israel gained control of the site, Jews went to the Temple Mount and prayed there in prayer quorums, wearing prayer shawls and tefillin.

“Now they are talking about the status quo, why is the status quo not set by what was there on the first days,” he asked.

Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni said that when all the “personal opinions of the cabinet members are added up, it turns out that the personal opinion represented by the prime minister is in the minority. With all the personal opinions we have a government without a position on the most important issue for our lives here,” she said.

Livni’s Zionist Union colleague MK Yoel Hasson called for Hotovely’s immediate dismissal, writing on his Facebook page that “with the stubbornness of a donkey, the messianic deputy minister continues to incite the entire Middle East.

“Every few months,” he wrote, “she repeats her call to have the Israeli flag flying over the Temple Mount, as if the situation here was not volatile enough.

Hotovely is the poster child for lack of responsibility. She should be dismissed immediately and distanced from the government for the good of Israel’s security.”

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