Police detain US congressmen on Temple Mount

Following complaints from the Islamic trust, two American congressmen were taken for questioning at the Temple Mount compound, allegedly for removing an olive branch. 

By: Atara Beck, World Israel News

US Congressmen Scott Tipton (R-CO) and David McKinley (R-WV), in Israel this week on a fact-finding mission organized by Proclaiming Justice to the Nations and Jaffe Strategies, were reportedly detained by police while visiting the Temple Mount Thursday morning, seemingly for picking up a fallen olive branch.

“Ostensibly, that might have something to do with it,” Rabbi Chaim Richman, international director of the Temple Institute, told World Israel News (WIN), adding that they were mistreated.

Eyewitnesses told WIN he saw the congressmen being taken away for questioning.

Israel Police National Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld denies the congressmen were detained. “They weren’t arrested and they weren’t detained,” he told WIN. “Towards the end of the visit, police asked them a number of questions to clarify an issue.”

Asked what the problem was, Rosenfeld said that removing anything from the site is prohibited, and they were questioned in that regard.

The police became involved following a complaint from the Jordanian Waqf (Islamic Trust). Although the IDF liberated the Old City of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War, the Waqf has maintained control over the Temple Mount.

The situation on the Temple Mount has reached a new low,” said Alon Schvartzer, director of policy for Zionist group Im Tirtzu. “This is a disgraceful reality that has long crossed the point of absurdity, and we cannot allow it to continue.” “Israel must remember that it has sovereignty over the Temple Mount, and not the Waqf. The time has come to provide freedom of worship to Jews, Christians and all those who wish to worship peacefully on the Temple Mount.”

The congressmen are on a fact-finding mission to Israel this week, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, cabinet ministers and lawmakers. Both are staunch supporters of the Jewish state and the Israel-US alliance as well as being on record for opposing the Iran nuclear deal.