MK Yaacov Katz temple mount 311.
(photo credit: Yaakov Lappin)
Four National Union MKs overcame police attempts to block them from touring the Old City near the Temple Mount on Wednesday.
Lawmakers Uri Ariel, Ya’acov Katz, Michael Ben-Ari and Arye Eldad said it was their right to walk around in any section of Jerusalem they pleased, and expressed outrage when their attempt to tour in the vicinity of the Temple Mount was blocked by several special patrol officers armed with machine guns who had been deployed to the site by Jerusalem police chief Cmdr. Aharon Franco.
“Every month we walk around this area. We were prevented from doing this earlier this month, because of the visit by [US Vice President] Joe Biden,” Katz said. “But the prime minister said Jerusalem, just like Tel Aviv, is not a settlement, and is open to all. We merely want to implement what Netanyahu said.”
Asked if the tour was a dangerous provocation during a sensitive time, Katz said, “For 150 years, Jews have been accused of igniting tensions in Jerusalem. We’re not walking around with weapons.” Pointing at his walking stick, he added, “All we have is a cane and our cellphones.”
Eldad said, “The whole of the Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel. Not to the Arabs, not to the US, and not to Saudi Arabia.”
Eldad added that “there has never been a good time” for Jews to exercise sovereignty over Jerusalem.
“We have been in Jerusalem for 3,000 years. The Middle East has always been explosive.
“Did anyone tell King David not to attack because the Middle East was very explosive at the time? Things were tense when the Romans and Babylonians were here too,” he added.
Ben-Ari said that “the US has existed for 200 years, Islam has existed for 1,300 years, but we have been in Jerusalem for 3,000 years. Not Obama and not [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] Abu Mazen will stop us from fulfilling our rights.”
Members of the legislators’ entourage were prevented by police from proceeding, prompting outrage from Itamar Ben-Gvir, a Jewish National Front activist and Knesset aide to Ben-Ari.
“Why don’t you let us pass? By what right are you blocking us? Has the Old City been declared a closed military zone?” he asked a stony faced special patrol officer.
“They work for Obama,” Ben-Ari chimed in.
A smiling Katz attempted to diffuse the situation, praising “our brave brothers in the police,” and calling Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin with a request for assistance. “We just want to walk around the gate. A Knesset committee has given us permission... Can you help?” he asked. After several minutes, police allowed the group to pass.
“You see, everything can be resolved gently and with love,” Katz said,
before disappearing into the Old City surrounded by police.
Earlier on Wednesday, Jerusalem police said they would continue to
maintain an increased presence in the Old City and around east
Jerusalem in general, to “prevent disturbances and maintain security in
In a statement, police referred to “calls by extremists from both sides
that are aimed at creating tension in the eastern [part] of the city
and on the Temple Mount. We will act with determination over the Pessah
holiday to secure the visitors and pilgrims in Jerusalem.”