Ministry to arrange Jewish prayer on Temple Mount

Sarsour: Jews need to accept J'lem will return to Muslims; Feiglin: Temple Mount prayer is an issue of Jewish sovereignty.

Orthodox Jews look out Temple Mount (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Orthodox Jews look out Temple Mount
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Religious Services Ministry is working on ways to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, ministry directorgeneral Elhanan Glatt said Wednesday.
The Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee held a special meeting on prayer at the Temple Mount, in honor of Jerusalem Day.
Glatt told the committee his office will examine ways to arrange Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.
“It cannot be that in the State of Israel, Jews need to stand aside,” said committee chairwoman Miri Regev. “The Temple Mount should be a place where people of any religion can pray.”
According to Regev, the Temple Mount is a mainstream issue in the heart of the Jewish People, who have prayed to return to Jerusalem for thousands of years.
At the beginning of the meeting, MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) and other Arab lawmakers complained that the screening of a short film of paratroopers liberating the Temple Mount and Western Wall from the Jordanians was offensive, and demanded it be stopped.
MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud Beytenu), who has been voting against the coalition in response to recently being banned from visiting the Temple Mount by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, said the main issue is sovereignty over the Temple Mount.
“The Wakf’s problem isn’t prayer, but the sovereign symbolism of prayer,” Feiglin explained. “As far as they are concerned, [Jewish prayer] eats away at the total Muslim rule over the Temple Mount.”
According to MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), every person of any religion has the right to pray in the places he or she considers holy. Zandberg said she agrees with Feiglin that this is an issue of sovereignty, adding that Jews will only be able to pray in the places holy to them after the occupation ends and Jerusalem is divided.
MK Ibrahim Sarsour (United Arab List-Ta’al) asked why Jews cannot pray somewhere other than at al-Aksa Mosque.
“Jews in Israel need to understand that one day Jerusalem will return to Palestinians and Muslims,” Sarsour added. “The solution is to maintain the status quo.”
MK Taleb Abu Arar (UALTa’al) said the issue is more religious than political, and echoed Sarsour’s call to continue the current situation.
“It is a basic right of every Israeli citizen to go up to the Temple Mount,” Regev said, concluding the meeting. “The State of Israel must protect this right. Freedom of religion and worship are anchored in our basic laws, and as a sovereign state, we must protect them.”
Regev added that her committee will follow the Religious Services Ministry’s efforts to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount.