JERUSALEM (JTA) – Knesset members will be allowed to visit the Temple Mount for a trial period.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will lift the ban later this month for five days, during which time the government will determine whether the visits cause violence at the site that is holy to both Jews and Muslims.
The decision comes after Likud party MK Yehuda Glick petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to be allowed to visit the Temple Mount. Prior to becoming a member of Knesset, Glick frequently visited the Temple Mount and brought others to visit. He survived an assassination attempt over his Temple Mount activism, and visited the site hours before he was sworn in as a lawmaker.
“The decision to open the Temple Mount is right and appropriate. It’s too bad that we had to petition the High Court for it to be made,” Glick said in a statement. “I call on all members of Knesset to ascend the Mount and respect the place appropriately, leaving disputes and agendas behind.”
Knesset members, both Jewish and Muslim, have been banned from visiting the holy site since October 2015. The Prime Minister’s Office issued the ban at the time to “cool the atmosphere around the Temple Mount” following a wave of Palestinian violence against Israeli targets, including car rammings and stabbing attacks. The violence occurred amid a backdrop of tensions there over non-Muslim visits and what the Arab world claims is an attempt to “Judaize” the site, the location of the Jewish people’s two Temples.
MKs from the Arab Joint List have broken the ban several times since it went into effect.
The Temple Mount is under Israeli sovereignty, but under a deal following Israel’s 1967 takeover of the site, is run by the Islamic Waqf, a Jordanian body. Muslims generally have full access to the site and the exclusive right to pray there. Jews can only ascend the mount during limited visiting hours and are forbidden from doing anything resembling worship such as kneeling, singing, dancing or rending their clothes.