Foreign Minister Yair Lapid says there is no change to the longstanding religious arrangements on the Temple Mount, under which only Muslims may pray at the site.
“There is no change to the status quo on the Temple Mount. We’ve clarified this to the Jordanians,” says Lapid. The Jordanian Waqf are the official custodians of the site.
His comments come after sources in the Prime Minister’s Office told Army Radio that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had misspoken on Sunday when he said both Jews and Muslims have “freedom of worship” on the Temple Mount, which would be a potentially explosive change after decades of Jews being permitted only to visit, but not pray, there.
The Temple Mount is the holiest place in Judaism, as the site of the two ancient Jewish Temples. It is also the site of the third-holiest shrine in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and has long been a flashpoint between Israelis and Palestinians.
While Jews can visit the site in Jerusalem’s Old City, the long-maintained status quo there has been that any non-Muslims are forbidden from praying there. Hints or rumors of changes to that status have been stridently opposed by the Muslim world, and have sparked deadly protests and angry denunciations from Arab governments.
Bennett’s original statement came a day after Channel 12 news reported that groups of observant Jews have been ascending to the Temple Mount in recent months and quietly praying without interruption by police. The TV report called the development “a revolution unfolding gradually under the radar.”