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Bennett speaks of ‘freedom of worship’ for Jews on Temple Mount

A member of the Israeli security forces stands guard as a group of Jews enters the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, during the annual Tisha B'Av fast day, on July 18, 2021. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
A member of the Israeli security forces stands guard as a group of Jews enters the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, during the annual Tisha B'Av fast day, on July 18, 2021. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has highlighted “freedom of worship for Jews on the [Temple] Mount,” in a statement that appears to be at odds with the status quo on the Mount, under which Jews are allowed to visit but not to pray there.

Bennett has just spoken with Public Security Minister Omer Barlev and Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, after over 1,600 Jews visited the Temple Mount today to mark the Tisha B’Av fast following overnights clashes, according to a statement issued by the premier’s office.

“The Prime Minister thanked the Public Security Minister and the Israel Police Inspector General for managing the events on the Temple Mount with responsibility and consideration, while maintaining freedom of worship for Jews on the Mount,” continues the statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, issued in English and Hebrew.

It adds that Bennett stressed “freedom of worship will also fully be preserved for Muslims,” noting the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha this week.

The Times of Israel has asked the Prime Minister’s Office to clarify whether the statement marks a change in policy, and is awaiting a response.

Jews are allowed to visit the Temple Mount under numerous restrictions but are barred from praying there.

However, a television report yesterday said police have been quietly permitting some Jewish worship at the site in Jerusalem’s Old City, which is the holiest place in Judaism and site of the third holiest shrine in Islam.

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