Joint (Arab) List MK Hanin Zoabi said there is no reason for Jews to be on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, telling an Israeli newspaper in an interview published Friday that there is no proof of a Jewish connection to the site.
“The name is al-Aqsa, not the Temple Mount, and there is nothing there for Jews,” Zoabi told the Hebrew-language Makor Rishon. “It’s a place for Muslims only, according to all the agreements signed after the occupation of Jerusalem, and the agreements between Jordan and Israel. The Israelis understood that they occupied Jerusalem but are not allowed to occupy al-Aqsa; now they are trying to occupy al-Aqsa too.”
Asked if she accepts that the biblical temples once stood on the Temple Mount, Zoabi said that “the temple is not part of the political reality in which we live. This is what was in the past. In the past they also used to call the entire homeland Palestine. Today there is occupation and there is al-Aqsa, and it’s a place of prayer for Muslims only. Additionally, the existence of the temple is not verified scientifically.”
Zoabi said the police limitations on men under a certain age entering the mosque, a measure taken in recent weeks to prevent rioters from using Friday prayers as a pretext for violence, were “a political colonialist war” waged by the State of Israel.
“As far as we are concerned it’s a declaration of war,” she said. Police measures, she maintained, were “an attempt to change the historical definition of al-Aqsa, despite the fact that al-Aqsa was not occupied until now and was made exempt from the 1967 occupation.”
The MK said that Jews have “no freedom of worship” on the Temple Mount “just as Muslims have no freedom of worship in synagogues.” Asked where in Jerusalem she believes Jews should be allowed to pray, Zoabi said: “I don’t know, I am not an historian, but in any case there is no place for Jews at al-Aqsa.”
Some Jews, the interviewer said, have dreamed for 2,000 years of a return to the Temple Mount.
“They can keep on dreaming,” Zoabi said. “They should not act against the Palestinians, they should let Muslims pray in their holy sites and not act as racists and invaders,” she said.
The police earlier this week accused Zoabi of inflaming tensions on the Temple Mount with misleading comments about access to the al-Aqsa Mosque.
Zoabi, police said, had falsely claimed that the al-Aqsa Mosque would be shut to Muslims and called it “a declaration of war.”
On Wednesday, fellow Joint List MK Jamal Zahalka was summoned for questioning by police after he was filmed haranguing Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount a day earlier.