A government minister from a nationalist religious party called Thursday for the Jewish Temple to be rebuilt on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The statement from Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) breaks a long-standing taboo on high-ranking government officials speaking about changing the fragile status quo on the holy and contested esplanade, and will likely draw ire from official Israeli circles and anger the Arab and Muslim world.
Speaking at an archaeological conference next to the West Bank settlement of Shilo and quoted by Maariv, Ariel called for a third Temple to be built on the site, which today is home to the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque and is considered Judaism’s holiest site and Islam’s third holiest.
“We’ve built many little, little temples,” Ariel said, referring to synagogues, “but we need to build a real Temple on the Temple Mount.”
The Jerusalem site was home to Judaism’s first and second Temples, both of which were destroyed, the second one in 70 CE. The idea of building a third Temple, while popular among some religious and right-wing Jews, is considered outside mainstream Israeli discourse by most.
Last year, Jewish Home MK Zevulun Orlev also called for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple, saying that removing the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque would mean that the “billion-strong Muslim world would surely launch a world war.” However, he added, “everything political is temporary and there is no stability.”
Jews are currently banned from praying on the Temple Mount by the Jordanian department of endowments, known as the Wakf, which administers the plaza surrounding the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.