After three-year ban, Israeli lawmakers renew visits to Temple Mount

Jewish government ministers and MKs are once again visiting the Temple Mount after Netanyahu lifted a three-year ban. 

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

As soon as the Temple Mount visiting hours for Jews began Sunday morning at 7 a.m., Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel (Jewish Home), together with a group he was leading, entered the compound from which he and all other Knesset members, Jewish and non-Jewish, had been barred since October 2015 by order of the prime minister.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instituted the ban in an attempt to reduce tensions during a wave of terror attacks and Muslim threats of violence against Jews specifically linked to the Temple Mount, which is administered by the Jordanian Muslim Trust.

Netanyahu partially lifted the ban already last week by sending a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein stating that Knesset members could now visit the site once every three months. As opposed to a pilot attempt he sanctioned last year, ministers were included in the permit.

Ariel congratulated the prime minister on the move while protesting its limitations.

“The Temple Mount must be open for Jewish prayer throughout the year, including to public figures,” he said. “The Muslims are not in charge of the Mount and they can’t make use of threats and violence that place limits on [Jewish] entry to the Temple Mount. I call on the prime minister to open the Temple Mount to Jewish prayer without limitations.”

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Likud MK Sharren Haskel, who visited the Mount with another Jewish group later in the morning, noted that the last time she had come, it was only two days before she became a parliamentarian.

“It makes me very excited to return to the holy place,” she said, according to Arutz 7. “Here we connect with our people, our tradition, our culture and our religion.”

During the pilot last year, Yehuda Glick (Likud), an activist for freedom of worship at the site, was the first up to the Mount with Shuli Moalem-Refaeli of the Jewish Home party.

“The Temple Mount is the place for everyone who wants to get close to the Master of the Universe and is not the place of those who incite or use violence or terrorists,” he stated.