According to the special ordinance which was prepared by the legal department of the ministry, there would be set hours for daily Jewish prayer on the mount.
A decision like this is highly sensitive because the Arab and Muslim world closely follows every Jewish move on the mount, and more than once, visits of Jews to the Temple Mount have led to violent riots.
Since the unification of Jerusalem during the Six Day War, and the famous call of the chief military rabbi “The Temple Mount is in our hands,” Jews have been forbidden from praying on the mount, which is managed by the Islamic religious authority, the Waqf. Those who break this restriction are immediately arrested – and forbidden from returning to the mount.
Additionally, in the past few years, a substantial increase has taken place in the number of Jews touring the site, including Knesset members and rabbis. The issue with the proposed change is that every change needs authorization of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Thus, Habayit Hayehudi, together with the the chair of the Interior Committee, Miri Regev, are looking for a way to authorize the prayer of Jews on the mount “under the radar.” The possibilities include changing the law which protects holy locations, so that the Temple Mount will be considered a religious site for Judaism as well.
If the law passes, it will be forbidden to harm the freedom of access of Jews to the site. On Monday, the Interior Committee is expected to hold a discussion on the issue, and there, the Deputy Minister of Religious Services Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan will state that, “the current situation on the mount must change.”
Based on High Court decisions, it has never been formally forbidden for Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, but the police have been given the authority to forbid Jews to pray there if there is a worry of disruption to public order. The police have determined that in general, there is danger in Jews praying there.
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