No Jewish prayer on Temple Mount, Israeli gov’t promises – here’s why

Israeli government reassures Arab world that status quo forbidding Jews from praying at Temple Mount still in place.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

After an Israeli court challenged a police policy banning Jews from the Temple Mount due to their recitation of the Shema Israel prayer, advocates for Jewish prayer rights at the compound were quick to hail the decision as a victory for religious freedom at the holy site.

But those celebrations were short-lived, as the Israeli government immediately reassured the Arab world that status quo forbidding Jews from praying at Temple Mount is still in place, against the backdrop of threats from the Hamas terror group and a statement from Jordan condemning the ruling.

On Sunday, Judge Zion Sahrai denied a police request to ban two Jews, who had quietly prayed at the site, from the Temple Mount for a set period of time.

Sahrai quoted a statement from Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai that said he was committed to ensuring religious freedom at the Temple Mount. The judge argued that quiet Jewish prayer was not an inherently disruptive act that justified a ban from the compound.

The ruling was interpreted by some as formally permitting Jewish prayer at the site, which according to the status quo, is forbidden at the site.

The Jordanian Foreign Ministry asserted that the ruling was illegal under international law and a “gross violation of international decisions relating to Jerusalem.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on the U.S. to “intervene urgently to stop the Israeli attacks on our people and their sanctities.”

Gaza-based terror group Hamas warned that the decision “plays with fire while crossing all red lines, and is a dangerous escalation for which the leaders of the occupation shall bear the consequences.”

Within hours of Sahrai’s ruling, the Israeli government announced that Sahrai’s decision did not signal a change to the status quo, and said they would file an appeal.

“There is no change, nor is any change planned, on the status quo of the Temple Mount,” read an Israeli government statement.

“The Magistrate Court’s decision is focused exclusively on the issue of the conduct of the minors brought before it, and does not constitute a broader determination regarding freedom of worship on the Temple Mount. With regard to the specific…case in question, the government was informed that the state will file an appeal to the District Court.”

Although the Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, Islamic authorities insist that Jews praying at the site is inherently provocative.

Many Arab and Islamic powers around the world categorize Jewish pilgrims visiting the compound as “settlers” who “storm” or “invade” the site, and vehemently object to any Jewish presence on the Temple Mount.