Muslims pray at Temple Mount.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The rioting by Palestinians in east Jerusalem is a response to Israeli ministers and lawmakers who made “provocative” visits to the Temple Mount, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told Channel 10 on Saturday.
Ya’alon was implicitly criticizing Likud and Bayit Yehudi MKs who entered the Temple Mount complex with police escort.
The defense minister said that while Jews in principle do have the right to make pilgrimages to the holy site, the publicized visits by politicians should be halted as a matter of pikuach nefesh
(the Jewish commandment permitting acts that run counter to religious doctrine if it means saving lives).
Ya’alon told Channel 10 that right-wing lawmakers are “fueling” Palestinian incitement by agitating for a greater Jewish presence on Temple Mount.
“We can’t ignore the fact that some of the events [in Jerusalem] are being exploited for what ministers and MKs did when they went up to Temple Mount,” the defense minister said. “It is certainly within our right to go up to Temple Mount, but there is a very sensitive status quo in play here that has been agreed upon with Jordan, and we need to preserve it.”
“The fact that the Palestinians exploit this and turn it into a provocation and incitement is true, but we don’t need to ignite this,” Ya’alon said.
Ya’alon was asked about his Likud colleague, MK Moshe Feiglin, who visited Temple Mount soon after the attempted assassination of Yehuda Glick, the far-right activist who advocates Jewish prayer on the site.
“It’s his right to go to Temple Mount,” Ya’alon said. “But when it’s done in a provocative way, and when it’s announced and promoted on the Internet a day before in a way that challenges the status quo, to which we are obligated as a government, obviously this incites [Palestinians].”
The defense minister said that there can be no discussion on permitting Jews to pray at the site “as long as the status quo doesn’t allow this.”
Ya’alon also took Economy Minister Naftali Bennett to task for “cynically exploiting” the violence in Jerusalem “for political purposes.”
Bennett raised hackles by criticizing the authorities’ decision to place concrete obstacles at light-rail stations as a defensive measure to prevent more Palestinian motorists from ramming into commuters.
“A government that hides behind concrete barriers has no raison d’etre,” Bennett said.
“When we have events like [terrorist attacks in Jerusalem], no one should make cynical use of them for political gain because it has a destabilizing effect,” the defense minister told Channel 10. “If someone has complaints, they could be heard behind closed doors in the cabinet room. That’s where everyone has an opportunity to express themselves.”