JERUSALEM (JTA) – Knesset members will be allowed to visit the Temple Mount one day next week following months of unrest at the holy site.
The trial visit was coordinated between the Israel Police and the Prime Minister’s Office, The Times of Israel reported.
The visit was announced Wednesday, hours after lawmakers Yehuda Glick of the Likud party and Shuli Mualem-Refaeli of Jewish Home attempted to enter the site. Days earlier, Glick had held office hours outside a Temple Mount entrance to protest the ongoing ban on visits by Knesset members. Arab-Israeli lawmakers also have protested, and flouted, the ban.
In November 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered lawmakers to stay off the Temple Mount amid a wave of Palestinian terrorism linked to claims that Israel was trying to change the status quo. Israel denied the claims. After Glick filed a petition against the ban, Netanyahu in early July decided to allow lawmakers to visit the site on a trial basis.
However, on July 14, before the decision went into effect, three Arab Israelis shot dead two policemen on the Temple Mount. Israel responded by suspending the plan and installing walk-through metal detectors at the Muslim entrances to the site. Amid prayer sessions, riots and regional pressure, Israel eventually removed the metal detectors. But the ban on visits by lawmakers has remained in place.
“The decision was made in light of the improvement in the security situation at the compound,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement to The Times of Israel.
Glick is a longtime activist for Jewish prayer rights at the Temple Mount. Prior to becoming a Knesset member, he led many groups of Jewish visitors to the site. In 2014, a Palestinian terrorist shot and nearly killed Glick for his Temple Mount activism.
Since capturing the Temple Mount from Jordan in 1967, Israel has controlled access but allowed Jerusalem’s Islamic authority to manage the site, which is holy to Jews and Muslims.