National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir stated that the government was making changes on the Temple Mount "slowly and quietly," during a festive meal for Jerusalem Day by the Temple Mount Administration on Sunday.
"We have the privilege to live in a generation like this. We have the privilege to live in a situation in which ministers, the speaker of the Knesset and MKs arrive [at the Temple Mount]. Who thought it would happen so quickly? And it is happening. It's true there are still more processes [to go through]. There are changes that we are doing as they say slowly, slowly, quietly, quietly," said Ben-Gvir in a video from the event published by the Temple Mount Administration.
It is unclear what changes Ben-Gvir was referring to.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stressed that Israel is acting to maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount.
"Israel is committed to maintaining freedom of worship, free access for all faiths and the status quo on the Temple Mount, and will not allow violent extremists to change this," said Netanyahu in April.
Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount are informed upon entry that prayer and religious items such as prayer books or prayer shawls are forbidden in the complex, although, since late 2019, Jewish visitors have been able to pray quietly, in certain parts of the site, relatively undisturbed. Since early last year, there have been occasions on which Jewish visitors have succeeded in praying and singing out loud and even managed to raise Israeli flags, although many of these individuals were subsequently arrested.
While the High Court of Justice has ruled in the past that Jews do have the legal right to pray on the Temple Mount, police have cited security concerns to impose a blanket prohibition on Jewish prayer.
Ben-Gvir visits Temple Mount, sparking international outrage
On Sunday, Ben-Gvir visited the Temple Mount, saying “I am happy to go up to the Temple Mount, the most important place for the people of Israel. It should be said that the police are doing a wonderful job here and once again proving who is in charge in Jerusalem. All of Hamas’s threats will not [change anything], we are in charge of Jerusalem and the entire Land of Israel.”
The visit sparked condemnation from the Palestinians and countries in the region and around the world.
Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh called the visit a “flagrant attack on al-Aqsa,” warning that it would have “serious repercussions,” according to the Palestinian WAFA news agency.
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry called the visit a “dangerous and unacceptable escalation” and “a flagrant and unacceptable violation of international law, and of the historical and legal status quo in Jerusalem and its sanctities.
The US State Department stated that it was "concerned" by what it called a "provocative visit" by Ben-Gvir and "the accompanying inflammatory rhetoric."
"This holy space should not be used for political purposes, and we call on all parties to respect its sanctity. More broadly, we reaffirm the longstanding US position in support of the historic status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites and underline Jordan’s special role as custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem."