(JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scolded Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick for paying a visit to the disputed holy site hours before being sworn in as a Knesset member.
Glick, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, visited the Jerusalem site – which is holy to both Muslims and Jews – on Monday and was sworn in that evening. The controversial activist had been next in line on the Likud list of members for a Knesset seat, which opened when defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, upon learning his ministry would be given to Yisrael Beiteinu’s Avigdor Liberman, resigned from the parliament last week.
Netanyahu has barred all ministers and Knesset members from going to the Temple Mount in an effort to defuse tensions there. Only Muslims are permitted to pray at the site, and rumours that Israel planned to change the status quo there led to the wave of Palestinian stabbing attacks and other violence that began in October.
According to the Times of Israel, Netanyahu told Glick, who has paid countless visits to the Temple Mount and has led Jews on tours of it, at the end of a Likud faction meeting Monday: “This is the last time you do this to me.”
Seemingly surprised, Glick responded: “What did I do? Earlier today I called up [Internal Security Minister Gilad] Erdan in the U.S. and I told him about the whole thing.”
Over the weekend the American-born rabbi, who survived a Palestinian assassination attempt last year, told the Israeli media he had no plans to violate the Temple Mount ban, saying, “With my entrance to politics, I am a team player and not an individual one.”
On Monday, as he left the Temple Mount, Glick thanked Israeli police officers for protecting him during his visits, telling them, according to the Times of Israel: “Know that everything that I do stems from the peace this place represents. I hope that it’s remembered that peace is the name of God, and everything I do for the country, the people and for Jerusalem, is driven by this city, the city of peace.
“I hope that light, goodness, blessings, bounty and peace will prevail in the place and everywhere else on earth.”
Glick is a resident of the West Bank settlement of Otniel.