WASHINGTON (JTA) – The Israel Police on Thursday evening announced that, following security assessments, the Temple Mount would immediately reopen to Muslim worshippers. Entrance to Muslims for Friday prayers, however, will be restricted to men over the age of 50.
The announcement came soon after the Obama administration called on Israel to reopen the area to Muslim worshippers.
“The continued commitment by Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians to preserve the historic status quo at this holy site is critical, any decisions or actions to change it would be provocative and dangerous,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday, referring to Israel’s closure of the site, also called Haram as Sharif and considered the third holiest site in Islam, in the wake of the attempted assassination of an activist who advocates Jewish worship on the mount, the holiest site in Judaism.
Since capturing the holy site during the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel has severely restricted access for Jewish worshippers, in part not to inflame tensions.
Instead, Jewish worshippers continue to pray at the adjacent Western Wall, the most substantial remnant of the Second Temple destroyed in the first century CE.
Yehuda Glick, the activist who is still in serious condition from the shooting Wednesday, leads a group that advocates for wider Jewish access to the Temple Mount.
Psaki condemned the shooting of Glick, a U.S. citizen, and said Secretary of State John Kerry would within the next day contact Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in part to address tensions in Jerusalem.
Psaki said that the United States had not changed its support for the status quo, which continues to restrict Jewish worship on the mount.