Haredi party leader to Netanyahu: ‘Keep the Temple Mount closed to Jews!’

The head of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party calls on Prime Minister Netanyahu not to reopen the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors.

“Because of our sins the Temple was destroyed,” UTJ chief Moshe Gafni says in a statement.

Many Haredi Jews believe Jews should not visit the site due to its holiness.

“Not ascending to the Temple Mount is the deepest proof of our belonging to this holy place to which we direct our prayers,” Gafni says.

He adds: “I ask you to keep the Temple Mount closed to Jews!”

Jews have been barred from visiting the site, the holiest in Judaism and third holiest in Islam, since Jerusalem Day earlier this month, when authorities made the decision to shutter the Temple Mount to non-Muslims amid spiraling tensions in the city.

A view into the Temple Mount compound amid clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, May 10, 2021 (Ahmad Gharabli / AFP)

Major clashes broke out at the site between police and Palestinian rioters later that morning, with hundreds said wounded.

Later that same day, May 10, the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group threatened to fire rockets at Israel if it did not withdraw police from the Temple Mount and the nearby East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah — a threat it made good on when it launched projectiles at the capital and other parts of the country, setting off 11 days of fighting in the Strip that ended early Friday.

Gafni’s comments could spark disagreement within Netanyahu’s right-wing religious bloc, which includes the premier’s Likud party, ultra-Orthodox Shas, UTJ and far-right Religious Zionism. The chief of the latter, MK Bezalel Smotrich, said Thursday that Netanyahu “can forget about forming a government” if the ceasefire with Hamas contains anything related to Jerusalem. Religious Zionism members were also critical of the initial decision to close the Temple Mount.

Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed