Minister Threatens to Take Action Over Temple Mount

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) appealed to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, asking to renew rights of ministers and MKs to visit the Temple Mount. 

"Preventing the visits of the symbols of sovereignty, ministers and Knesset members – is a violation of sovereignty," Ariel noted, in an open letter. 

Ariel pointed out, as well, four separate proposals regarding the Temple Mount recently published in the media:

  • an alleged Jordanian proposal for full control over the Mount to be transferred to the Waqf Muslim Authority, reverting back to Israel's agreement with Jordan over the site pre-2000;
  • a proposal for Israel to lift any and all restrictions on Muslim visitors to the Mount;
  • a proposal for all Israeli MKs and ministers to be permanently barred from visiting the Mount;
  • a proposal, allegedly from US Secretary of State John Kerry, to outline the "status quo" in an official document. 

Ariel angrily refuted all of these.

"These demands require the interference of a foreign government with Israeli sovereignty … the current status quo on the Temple Mount, including prevention prayer, and restriction on entry, etc. – is very bad. It is a disgrace that a Jew was arrested on the Temple Mount for saying the "Shema Yisrael" [prayer]. But the status quo is decades old and not determined by you." 

Ariel made it clear that he opposes any adverse change in the situation – "however, if you choose to make the above concessions it means one thing: creating a new status quo, and one to which I cannot agree under any circumstances." 

Only the State of Israel can determine whether and when Jews can visit Judaism's holiest site, he added, and refused to allow the Muslim Waqf Authority official sovereignty once again over it. 

Moreover, he maintained that the Israeli government has not written down the "status quo" regarding the Mount for a reason: to allow Israel to slowly gain more sovereignty over it. 

Ariel implied that he would take drastic action in the event Netanyahu detracted from Israeli control over the Mount – even, possibly, resigning from the Knesset, as he "won't be able to work with" the Prime Minister. 


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