Knesset Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni slammed Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel Thursday, accusing him of failing to do his own job, while instead engaging in political activities that were endangering Israelis.
At issue was a visit by Ariel to the Temple Mount earlier in the week. Ariel visited the Mount – Judaism's holiest site – on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, with Arabs rioting and attack Jewish visitors and police officers. The attacks continued throughout the holiday, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called an emergency meeting of the cabinet at the end of the holiday on Tuesday night to discuss plans to stem the unrest.
Ariel was a central figure in those visits – and a central reason for Arab rioting, said Gafni.
“I strongly protest Uri Ariel's visit to the Temple Mount,” he said at a meeting of the Committee.
“I do not see any logic to these visits from a political point of view. Ariel is supposed to be Agriculture Minister but he is not doing his job. If he was so concerned about the Land of Israel he would spend more time doing his job and less on ascending the Temple Mount. He has personally caused much suffering to the haredi public," Gafni added, without specifying.
Gafni is a member of United Torah Jewry, a haredi political party that subscribes to an ideology that claims that Jews are forbidden to enter any area of the Temple Mount until the arrival of the Messiah, due to ritual impurity. According to other rabbis – many of whom not only permit but actively encourage such visits – only certain parts of the Mount are off-limits due to ritual impurity issues.
Commenting on Gafni's criticism, Ariel told Army Radio that “instead of worrying about other people's issues, Gafni should concentrate on what he does best – shnorring (begging) for money for his community.”
Regarding his visit, Ariel said that “the situation in which Jews are forbidden to visit and pray at the Temple Mount is impossible to accept. I have discussed this with Prime Minister Netanyahu,” although Netanyahu has yet to respond to his complaints, Ariel said.