A lawmaker from the Likud party held office hours Monday outside an entrance to the Temple Mount in protest of an ongoing ban against MKs visiting the holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem, imposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Yehudah Glick, who was shot in 2014 over his campaign for Jewish prayer rights at the Temple Mount, said it was a one-day action.
“I’m here to protest the fact that the prime minister won’t enable police to allow us to enter the Temple Mount,” Glick told journalists at the site.
“I suffer every day I can’t enter the Temple Mount,” he said, as he held court at one of the gates to the compound alongside a number of bodyguards.
In 2014, a Palestinian terrorist attempted to assassinate Glick, telling Glick, right before pulling the trigger, that he was “an enemy of al-Aqsa,” the Temple Mount mosque.
On Monday, Glick described the site as “the essence of my life.”
“There’s no reason in the world to think that my entering the Temple Mount will stir trouble,” he said.
“The Jewish God is inclusive… He wants to see the prayer of Muslims and Jews and Christians and Indonesians and Mexicans,” Glick said.
“We don’t want to harm the Muslims, on the contrary… when I see a Muslim praying at the Temple Mount it fills my heart with great joy. It shows me the fulfillment of the prophecies of our prophets.”
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest site in Islam. High-profile visits by Israeli officials and rumors of changes to the status quo have preceded outbursts of violence. Under an arrangement in place since Israel’s victory in the 1967 war, non-Muslims are allowed to visit the site but not pray there.
Netanyahu ordered Jewish and Muslim lawmakers off the site a year and a half ago, after the outbreak in October 2015 of a wave of Palestinian violence and terror attacks centered around claims that Israel was attempting to take control of the Temple Mount compound.
In early July, following discussions with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, the prime minister decided that the ban would be lifted on July 23 for a period of seven days to assess the fallout from the move.
The decision to allow MKs back at the site came after Glick, who has campaigned for Jewish rights at the site and was a frequent visitor there until the ban was enforced, filed a High Court of Justice petition against the ban.
However, on July 14, three Arab-Israelis, armed with guns they had smuggled into the Temple Mount compound, emerged from the site and shot dead two policemen guarding at one of the entrances. The attackers fled back into the compound where they were killed by pursuing police.
In the wake of the attack, plans to lift the ban on MKs were put on hold and Israel installed walk-through metal detectors at entrances to the compound. Muslim leaders and the Palestinian Authority called on worshipers to refuse to pass through the detectors and boycott the Temple Mount until they were removed, claiming Israel was changing the status quo at the site. Prayer sessions were held at the entrances to the site and nearby passages instead and near-daily riots accompanied the developments.
The metal detectors were eventually removed along with any other new security measures and Muslim authorities called off the boycott, restoring calm.