The new Minister of Internal Security and Tourism, Yariv Levin (Likud), dodged questions Monday about allowing Jewish Knesset members to ascend to the Temple Mount. Facing repeated queries by Walla! News, Levin said that his “clear position is that the Nation of Israel has a clear right to the entire Land of Israel, and that position will never change.”
However, he said, any “specific decision” regarding regulations “in one place or another” will be reached “with responsibility and forethought.” He added: “I am sure that these regulations will be such that on the one hand, guarantee the right of everyone to freedom of worship, and on the other hand, safeguard everyone's security.”
Levin insisted that at present, MKs and Jews in general are allowed to ascend to the Temple Mount, and promised to maintain this situation. He did not mention the fact that Jews are, in fact, regularly prevented from entering the Temple Mount when police decide to block their entry for fear of Muslim violence, that they are forbidden from praying there, and that their tours of the Mount are accompanied by constant harassment from Muslims.
The newly appointed minister said he would not continue to hold on to both the Tourism portfolio and the Internal Security portfolio for long, and would have to let one of them go. He called on former Interior Minister Gilad Erdan to join the government and accept the Internal Security portfolio that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu offered him, and that Levin is currently holding in his place.
Levin noted that the Internal Security Ministry is the most important ministry that Netanyahu is currently allotting to Likud MKs, and that Erdan has no basis for feeling that Netanyahu slighted him by offering him that ministry.
Erdan wanted to hold on to the Interior Ministry and unite it with the Internal Security Ministry, and claimed that he would not be able to push through the reforms he is planning unless he receives the double ministry. Netanyahu rejected this demand, and Erdan announced that he will serve the Coalition as an MK and not a minister, for the time being.