We won't give up Temple Mount, Israeli rabbis tell Obama
Some 70 religious Zionist rabbis and educators issue a petition directed at the Israeli and American leaders, stating that the Jewish ownership of the holy site preceded the existence of Islam. Therefore, they say, the current visitation and prayer arrangements at the Temple Mount are 'only temporary.'
In a petition issued ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with President Barack Obama on Monday, the rabbis noted that the site's sacredness for the Jews and their affiliation with it had preceded the existence of Islam, and therefore the visitation and prayer arrangements set by the State were "only temporary."
The statement was signed by 70 senior rabbis and educators from the Religious Zionist movement, including some if its leaders, who represent different religious and political outlooks - from Safed's conservative Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, through Rabbi Chaim Druckman, head of the Center for Bnei Akiva Yeshivot, to Efrat's liberal Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin.
Other signatories include Jerusalem's Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern, Old City Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl, Samaria's Chief Rabbi Elyakim Levanon and former Chief Military Rabbi Avichai Ronsky.
The rabbis' petition was issued during Netanyahu's visit to the United States and appeared to be directed at the two countries' leaders. Under the headline, "We won't give up the Temple Mount," they wrote: "The Temple Mount belongs to the people of Israel for generations for about 3,000 years now, since it was purchased by King David for its full price from Araunah the Jebusite.
"The two temples of the people of Israel stood on the Temple Mount for some 1,000 years, before the religion of Islam even existed. No one has the authority to give up the Temple Mount. The Israeli government can definitely set the practical arrangements on the Temple Mount today, but they are only temporary."
The rabbis went on to stress that the people of Israel were certain of the fulfillment of the prophets' vision on the construction of the temple, and "pray that we will see it happen soon in our time."
They quoted the words of Prophets Isaiah and Micah: "In the days to come the mountain of the Lord's house will be the highest of the mountains. It will be lifted above the hills; peoples will stream to it. Many nations will go and say, 'Come, let’s go up to the Lord's mountain, to the house of Jacob’s God, so that he may teach us his ways and we may walk in God’s paths.' Instruction will come from Zion; the Lord's word from Jerusalem. God will judge between the nations, and settle disputes of mighty nations. Then they will beat their swords into iron plows and their spears into pruning tools. Nation will not take up sword against nation; they will no longer learn how to make war."
"We are not attacking the prime minister," one of the petition's organizers told Ynet. "We just want to make it clear both to the world and to the Muslims that we have not given up the Temple Mount or the temple. If they are relying on Netanyahu to make us give it up - they can forget about it. In other words, the Muslim statement that the Jews want a temple is more than accurate."