Police patrol near the Temple Mount 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
MK Miri Regev, chairwoman of the Knesset Interior Committee, instructed police
on Monday to ensure that Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount will be able to go
up to the site unimpeded by police or Arab demonstrators.
some Muslims throw stones when Jews go up to the Temple Mount is not a reason to
prevent them from going, as happened over Succot,” Regev told police Ch.-Supt.
Avi Biton during the committee hearing.
“Police must allow Jews to go up
to the site on Hanukka,” she continued. “Special arrangements are made for
Muslim prayer there during Ramadan and similar arrangements must be made for
Jewish visits on Jewish holidays.”
Jewish groups and activists who
regularly visit the Temple Mount frequently complain that the police do not
treat them appropriately and hamper their wishes to go up to the site,
especially on Jewish festivals.
“For me, the festival of Hanukka
represents the time that Jews stood up for their freedom and equality,” said
Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a spokesman and activist for the Joint Association of Temple
Organizations group. “We don’t want to harm or disturb anyone, but simply wish
to pray at Judaism’s holiest site, while the police are hostile to, and continue
to humiliate, Jewish visitors.”
Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, who has been
active on the issue for many years, said activists should not direct complaints
at police, since they only carry out the government’s wishes. Feiglin, who was
personally banned by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from visiting the Temple
Mount, said the problem is one of government policy, not police
Bayit Yehudi MK Zvulun Kalfa also spoke at the hearing,
describing the situation as one of “national importance,” and saying it was
“unbelievable that Jewish people cannot get access to their holiest
Previous hearings on the issue in the Knesset Interior Committee
have led to fierce and vitriolic shouting matches between right-wing MKs and
Arab lawmakers. Although the tone was relatively calm on Monday, tempers still
flared on occasion.
MK Masud Gnaim of the UAL-Ta’al party said Israel has
no sovereign rights to the Temple Mount since it is “occupied territory,” and
the entire compound is part of al- Aksa Mosque.
“This place is holy to
hundreds of millions of Muslims and not Jews,” Gnaim said. He also argued that
Muslim prayer rights were similarly infringed, since the Western Wall area is
holy for holy Muslims and claimed they are prevented from praying
In response, Regev said there was no hindrance to Muslims praying
at the Western Wall.