Arab MK: Temple Mount not holy to Jews

As tensions escalate over holy site, Jewish MK calls for exclusive Israeli sovereignty over mountain

An Orthodox Jew stands facing the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem on July 24, 2013. (Lucie March/Flash90)
An Orthodox Jew stands facing the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem on July 24, 2013. (Lucie March/Flash90)

The Temple Mount is not holy to Jews, and they should not be allowed to visit the site, MK Taleb Abu Arar (Ra’am-Ta’al) told a Jewish activist on Friday.

“It should be closed all the time to Jews because they have no business there,” Abu Arar wrote in an email to Tom Nisani (Hebrew link), who had written MKs to complain that the site was closed to Jews last week by Israeli authorities as a measure to prevent altercations with Palestinians on the site.

Writing in the name of “Students for the Temple Mount,” Nisani wrote the MKs demanding that they “act with the police and the government to correct the injustice.”

“I wrote before Shabbat to all 120 Members of Knesset to advise them of the injustice of the Temple Mount’s (repeated) hermetic closure to Jews and tourists, [which happened] without explanation and without notice,” Nisani wrote on Facebook on Saturday.

“This is how an MK in the state of Israel, Taleb Abu Arar, chose to respond a short time later,” Nisani added, attaching an image of the email response from Abu Arar. “In his opinion, if I was born a Jew I have no right to go to the Temple Mount compound.”

“So long as the state of Israel continues to permit the denial of its foundations and very existence, [they] will continue to eat away at its sovereignty and harm its future. No more turning a blind eye. No more racism,” wrote Nisani.

Reached by The Times of Israel on Monday, Abu Arar confirmed he had written the note.

“The Al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits on 144 dunams, is holy for Muslims, not Jews. Jews should find their holy places elsewhere until the coming of the messiah, as their rabbis say. I don’t recognize the name Temple Mount. The Jews have nothing to look for there,” he said.

The site has seen repeated clashes between Palestinian rioters and police over Jewish visits to the site, especially during the Jewish Sukkot holiday this week.

On Monday, dozens of Arab rioters, primarily young men, were holed up in the Al-Aqsa Mosque atop the mount.

The site was surrounded by Israeli police forces, who stormed the plaza atop the holy site before 7 a.m. after receiving information that Palestinian activists had gathered stones and set barbed wire obstacles in preparation of planned attacks against Jewish visitors to the site.

When they entered the site Monday morning, police were met with thrown rocks, firebombs and fireworks, Israel Radio reported. The rioters were pushed back into the mosque, and remain holed up there surrounded by police forces. Police removed multiple obstacles on the site, including stretches of barbed wire.

The site was opened to Jewish visitors at 7:30 a.m.

The site was closed to Jewish visitors since the middle of last week, but reopened Monday morning.

“Every day Israel causes unnecessary conflict and provocations by letting Jews go up there,” Abu Arar charged. “I know and believe that it’s the Al-Aqsa Mosque, holy to Muslims and not to Jews. The Mughrabi gate [from which non-Muslims can enter the site] has to be closed to Jews.”

If there were even “a 1% chance that [the site might be] holy to Jews, I wouldn’t get involved. There are many holy places to Jews where we don’t intervene. But this is holy to Muslims. The [Jews’] entry to it is enflaming the region. We don’t want conflict,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Jewish MK, Likud’s Moshe Feiglin, visited the site Monday and called for the removal of the protesters.

“The Temple Mount must be completely cleared of the savage mob, which must not be allowed a foothold or ‘holy’ places of refuge,” he wrote, referring to the mosque on the site’s southern edge where the protesters were holed up.

Despite the protests, “hundreds of Jews are finally going up to the mountain in joy,” Feiglin wrote on Facebook. “Through them, the exclusive sovereignty on the mountain will be returned to the people of Israel, and the state of Israel will invite every Jew to go and pray [there].”

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