‘Police are acting against the law,’ says politician barred from Temple Mount

“Ahmed Tibi and the MKs from the Joint List do not coordinate their arrival to the Temple Mount with the Israel Police. There is no reason that they don’t and we must,” says right-wing Jewish lawmaker Ben-Gvir.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

On Tuesday, Israeli police prevented lawmakers Itamar Ben-Gvir and Amichai Chikli from ascending the Temple Mount, saying they did not follow the formal procedure of notifying the Knesset Guard 24 hours in advance of the visit.

But police do not demand that Arab MKs follow the same procedures that Jewish legislators must follow when visiting the holy site, Ben-Gvir, head of the right-wing Otzma Yehudit party, said.

“The police are acting against the law that allows MKs freedom of movement without prior coordination,” he declared. “The law supersedes the regulation, and…I myself have gone to the Mount without coordination in the last two months.”

Ben-Gvir went to the site after police had turned away Yemina MK Amichai Chikli earlier in the day.

Ben-Gvir pointed out the alleged discrimination in tweeting his intentions prior to his own visit.

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“Ahmed Tibi and the MKs from the Joint List do not coordinate their arrival to the Temple Mount with the Israel Police. There is no reason that they don’t and we must. I will get to the Temple Mount at 1:30 PM. The police have a duty to follow the law and allow members of Knesset to enter the Mount,” he wrote.

After he was stopped, the right-wing lawmaker wrote to the Knesset, stating that he would be ascending the Mount on both Wednesday and Thursday. He also warned that he might take court action over a procedure he deemed “illegal,” saying it could contradict an MK’s right to access almost all places in the country.

“I am, of course, reserving the right to take any and all steps, including personal lawsuits against the one responsible for this illegal behavior,” he wrote.

Saying that he has never seen protocols regarding this Knesset rule, he added, “I would like to see the regulation, insofar as it exists.”

The stated purpose of the procedure is to ensure that proper safety precautions are put in place ahead of time. According to the police, the visit is also “subject to an overall situational assessment,” which would allow them to cancel it if deemed too dangerous.

Ben-Gvir was motivated to ascend the Mount by the police announcement that it would not allow the rescheduled Flag March – an annual event celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 – to take place Thursday due to fears of Arab rioting, as the route passed through Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter of the Old City to the Western Wall. The lawmaker said that he would take advantage of his parliamentary immunity to march along that route in order to show that “every Jew has the right to march through the streets of Jerusalem.”

He and other right-wing MKs panned a subsequent police decision to allow the parade on Tuesday on an as-yet-unnamed alternate route, saying that it was giving in to terrorists.

The police commissioner is “now making [Hamas leader] Yahya Sinwar the one who runs Jerusalem. This is a shameful surrender to terrorism and Hamas threats,” charged Religious Zionism party head Betzalel Smotrich.