Court overruled: Jewish teens’ restrictions on Temple Mount reinstated

The teens’ lawyer said the overruling was the result of “crazy pressure and threats.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Jerusalem District Court last week overruled a lower court decision to eliminate police restrictions on three Jewish teens who had prayed and bowed on the Temple Mount last week.

The higher court accepted the police appeal against Magistrates Court Judge Zion Saharai, who had cancelled the 15-day ban that was placed on the young men entering the Old City.

The police claimed that the teens had disrupted public order. Palestinian terror groups and lately Jordan have been raging against any sign of Jews performing religious rites on the Mount. They say that only Muslims have the right to pray there and insist on maintaining the “status quo” in which Jews are allowed to visit but not pray.

The Palestinians are also threatening violence if their strictures are not obeyed.

While Israeli governments through the years have agreed not to permit open worship by Jews, in recent years the police have usually – but not always – allowed Jews to say unobstrusive prayers. Police commissioner Koby Shabtai recently publicly noted the right of Jews to have freedom of worship in a democracy.

In this, Shabtai was quoting Israel’s Supreme Court, which has repeatedly upheld this basic right. However, the court has also ruled that if this right clashed with security concerns, the latter takes priority.

Judge Einat Avman-Moller pointed this to this caveat in her ruling to bar the young men from the Old City.

“The special sensitivity of the Temple Mount cannot be overstated,” she said. Jewish freedom of worship at the site “is not absolute, and should be superseded by other interests, among them the safeguarding of public order.”

Saharai, however, had written in his decision, “In my opinion, it is not possible to say that bowing and reciting the Shema holds a reasonable suspicion of conduct that may lead to a breach of peace, as required by law.”

Honenu lawyer Nati Rom, who is representing the teens, said that untoward pressure had been brought to bear to change Saharai’s decision.

“From the moment the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruling was made, a campaign of crazy pressure and threats began, both politically, in the media and by terrorist organizations, with gross and blatant interference, and while violating the independence of the judiciary, and polluting the judicial process,” he said.

“Today, when we arrived at the courtroom, senior officials from the police, the Shin Bet and the State Attorney’s Office, as well as the State Attorney’s Office’s spokesperson, were waiting for us. It hurts to see how much the State of Israel invests to preserve the violation of freedom of worship, and selective enforcement against the Jews, which is contrary to basic laws, morals, and the Zionist spirit,” he said.