Ban on lawmakers visits to Temple Mount lifted

Likud lawmaker Yehuda Glick sitting outside the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem in protest on the ban on Knesset members visiting the site, Aug. 14, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud lawmaker Yehuda Glick sitting outside the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem in protest on the ban on Knesset members visiting the site, Aug. 14, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) – A ban on all Israeli lawmakers visiting the Temple Mount was lifted.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said in a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein that all lawmakers, including government ministers, will be permitted to visit the Temple Mount once every three months.

The decision comes a week after Likud lawmaker Yehuda Glick, who in 2014 was shot and nearly killed by a Palestinian terrorist over his Temple Mount activism, asked Netanyahu to let Jewish lawmakers resume visiting the Mount. In his request, Glick pointed out that Muslim lawmakers had visited the site during Ramadan, Haaretz reported.

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 last July decided to allow lawmakers to visit the site on a trial basis.

However, on July 14, 2017, before the decision went into effect, three Arab Israelis shot dead two police officers 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 remained in place.

Glick and Shuli Mualem-Refaeli of the Jewish Home Party made a trial visit to the site in August 2017.  Arab-Israeli lawmakers said they would continue to visit and pray at the Temple Mount whenever they want.

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.

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