MKs say coalition could fall over Islamic party’s Temple Mount demands

The Ra’am party’s condition for supporting the government is a “red line,” say MK’s from Bennett’s Yamina party.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

With the coalition teetering, some Yamina MKs are seemingly threatening to let it fall if the prime minister agrees to demands by the Islamist Ra’am party regarding the Temple Mount, Israel National News reported.

“As far as we are concerned, Ra’am can leave,” one was quoted as saying. “We won’t tolerate their threats and their irrational demands for them to stay in the coalition. If they want to continue to help the Arab sector, great. If they want more than that, they have no place here.”

Another senior party official told Israel National News that “the message from Yamina members to Bennett…makes clear that the Temple Mount is a red line.”

On Sunday, Channel 12 reported that Ra’am head Mansour Abbas has several conditions for his party’s return from a self-induced suspension during the spring recess in response to demands by his party’s religious mentors.

They had been angered over the Israeli police arresting hundreds of Palestinians and injuring dozens during Muslim riots on the Temple Mount.

One of Abbas’ demands is that Israel would have to “consult” with Jordan about any policy changes regarding the holy site.

During the riots, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas charged that Israel wanted to change the status quo on the Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest site, by dividing it between Jewish and Muslim areas and allowing Jews to pray there openly.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid flatly denied the accusation. Then the government ordered that the site be closed to non-Muslims for the last 10 days of Ramadan, which ended Monday.

Jordan has demanded that the Islamic trust that administers the Mount be put in charge of security instead of Israeli police. In addition, according to the demands, non-Muslim visitors would have to be pre-approved, including many restrictions.

Jordanian leaders have been particularly harsh in blaming Israel for the violence, which forced Israeli police to intervene to protect Jewish visitors there and those praying at the Western Wall below.

King Abdullah called the police intervention “illegal” and “provocative.” Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh praised the rioters in Parliament and condemned “the Zionist sympathizers defiling the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Even with Ra’am back in the coalition, it has barely 60 members, which puts into question the government’s ability to govern or pass any laws in the Knesset in the upcoming summer session. Senior members of the party have described the coalition as “in a coma” but said that Ra’am would not cause its dissolution.

According to Channel 12, the coalition will try to submit bills to start the summer session that the Opposition would be hard-pressed to vote against, such as economic laws that would lower the cost of living and security issues.