After days of riots, PM renews ban on MKs at Temple Mount
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After days of riots, PM renews ban on MKs at Temple Mount

Netanyahu, Erdan cancel planned lifting of moratorium on politicians’ trips to flashpoint holy site after ongoing violence

Thousands of Muslims pray in front of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount during the holy month of Ramadan in Jerusalem's Old City, June 26, 2016. (Suliman Khader/Flash90)
Thousands of Muslims pray in front of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount during the holy month of Ramadan in Jerusalem's Old City, June 26, 2016. (Suliman Khader/Flash90)

Members of Knesset are still forbidden from going up to the Temple Mount in light of the current unrest there, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan decided Tuesday.

Erdan and Netanyahu met earlier in the day to discuss the recent riots and violent demonstrations at the flashpoint holy site, which resulted in the injury of one 73-year-old Jewish woman in the Western Wall Plaza who was struck by a rock thrown by Muslim protesters.

Dozens of protesters have been arrested in recent days as well.

“The issue will be discussed next week, depending on the situation and subject to developments at the Temple Mount,” Erdan’s office said, according to Haaretz. Erdan also informed Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein of the ban, his office said.

A similar decision was taken in October last year as violence, including a wave of Palestinian stabbing and car-ramming attacks, surged across the West Bank following rioting on the Temple Mount.

Erdan and Netanyahu are slated to meet again next week to conduct a “situational assessment” and decide whether to continue the ban on lawmakers visiting the site, Erdan’s office said in a statement.

Erdan informed Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein of the decision on Tuesday afternoon.

In mid-June, police said they were reconsidering the eight-month ban on political leaders visiting the Temple Mount.

The move followed a declaration last month by several MKs from the Joint (Arab) List that they would visit the Temple Mount during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began June 6, whether or not the ban remained in force.

The announcement led to a meeting in early June in Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein’s office, attended by Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich and Jerusalem Police chief Yoram Halevy, at which the police officials said they no longer opposed such visits, citing an updated intelligence assessment indicating that politicians’ visits to the holy sites on the Mount were not likely to result in renewed violence.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan attends a meeting of the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee, February 9, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan attends a meeting of the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee, February 9, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Tuesday railed at the violent protesters on the Temple Mount, accusing them of not allowing police to do their job of “protecting the status quo.”

Following numerous incidents of rock throwing by Palestinians, police on Tuesday announced that the Mount, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims, would be closed to Jewish visitors and tourists for three days and that extra forces would be deployed to prevent rioting. In response to the stone-throwing, police entered the compound to prevent further incidents. Seventeen people were arrested Tuesday, police said, adding to the five detained the previous day.

Barkat said in a statement that police should be “allowed to do their job and to continue protecting the status quo on the Temple Mount.”

Under agreements dating back to 1967, the Jordan-based Waqf administers the Temple Mount, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, but must allow visitors of all faiths to enter the site.

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