No limits on Ramadan visits to Temple Mount: Report

Pressure from the Biden administration likely played a role in the decision.

By World Israel News Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Minister-Without-Portfolio Benny Gantz, will not restrict visits to the Temple Mount bn Palestinian Authority residents and Israeli-Arabs during Ramadan, Channel 12 reported.

If the report is accurate, the decision would come in direct opposition to a policy set by Public Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who sought to bar visits by Israeli-Arab men under the age of 60 and ban PA visitors entirely, for security reasons.

While Hebrew-language media previously reported that Netanyahu had accepted Ben-Gvir’s request, the premier was said to have held an additional session with the war cabinet and decided against that policy.

Pressure from the Biden administration likely played a role in the decision.

On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller criticized the potential limitations, demanding that Israel “facilitate access to the Temple Mount for peaceful worshippers during Ramadan, consistent with past practice.”

Miller said that Israel should facilitate free visitations at the site, because restrictions could spark Muslim ire and increase tensions.

“It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s not just a matter of granting people religious freedom that they deserve, to which they have a right, but it’s also a matter that is directly important to Israel’s security,” Miller added.

“It is not in Israel’s security interest to inflame tensions in the West Bank or in the broader region. And so we’ll continue to make that clear.”

Miller did not acknowledge that Jews are barred from praying at the compound, which is the holiest site in Judaism, and that groups of Jewish visitors to the site are often violently attacked.

Earlier in February, the White House released a summary of President Joe Biden’s meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah II which said that he had “underscored the importance of upholding the status quo at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, recognizing Jordan’s crucial role as the custodian of Muslim holy places in Jerusalem.”