Temple Mount activists: Netanyahu has banned Jewish visitors to holy site

Temple Mount activists say that Netanyahu, as part of a deal with Rabbi Tzvi Thau, has decided to indefinitely bar Jewish visitors from ascending the site.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

On the heels of rising tensions between Israel and Hamas, Jews have been tacitly banned from visiting the Temple Mount, Hebrew-language media reported.

On Tuesday evening, Temple Mount activists said they’d received notice from government and security officials that the site would be closed due to the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, and that the closure would likely continue through Jerusalem Day on Monday.

But the activists say that the ban is not temporary. They say that Netanyahu, as part of a deal with Rabbi Tzvi Thau, has decided to bar Jewish visitors from ascending the site indefinitely.

A Temple Mount activist told Ynet, “Netanyahu is violating Israel’s sovereignty. If after so many years of the government insisting on leaving the site open on Jerusalem Day, it will be closed [now], it will be remembered forever – and all for a political deal.”

In past years, the site has not been off-limits to Jewish visitors during Ramadan. But while some believe the closure is due to simmering tensions that have resulted in widespread riots in eastern Jerusalem, the activists say the ban is part of a backdoor deal cooked up by Netanyahu.

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In order to form a governmental coalition, Netanyahu needed the support of Mansour Abbas’ Islamist Ra’am party – a proposal that the Religious Zionism party staunchly refused.

But days ago, Rabbi Tzvi Thau, the spiritual leader of Religious Zionism’s Noam faction, penned an open letter essentially koshering a partnership with Abbas and saying that forming a right-wing government takes priority over all other considerations.

The activists believe that in order to win Thau’s endorsement of an Arab-backed coalition, Netanyahu promised a ban on Jews ascending the Temple Mount.

Thau’s sect of haredi Judaism is vehemently opposed to Jews visiting the Temple Mount for a number of spiritual reasons.

The Noam party denied the allegations in a statement to Ynet.

The Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism and the location of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is a flashpoint area that’s seen frequent clashes between Jews and the Jordanian-backed Waqf, which is the official guardian of the grounds.

While Jewish groups have been allowed to visit the Temple Mount when escorted by armed guards, they are officially forbidden from praying at the site, as Muslims view it as an act of provocation.