Netanyahu renews ban on MK visits to Temple Mount
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Netanyahu renews ban on MK visits to Temple Mount

Move comes as violence flares up again in West Bank, Jerusalem; Likud’s Yehuda Glick suggests he may violate ban in future

Thousands of Muslims pray in front of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount during the holy month of Ramadan in Jerusalem's Old City, June 26, 2016. (Suliman Khader/Flash90)
Thousands of Muslims pray in front of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount during the holy month of Ramadan in Jerusalem's Old City, June 26, 2016. (Suliman Khader/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday authorized Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to extend an almost year-long ban on Israeli lawmakers from visiting the flashpoint Temple Mount site in Jerusalem.

The prime minister gave the directive two days after a knife-wielding Jordanian national charged Border Police officers at the Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem’s Old City before he was shot dead, in one of a surge of terror-related attacks at the weekend.

The Temple Mount ban for lawmakers and ministers was imposed in October 2015, with the upsurge of violence, and was extended in June.

Likud MK Yehudah Glick, a former Temple Mount activist, lamented the decision on Sunday, and suggested he would violate the ban if it was extended further.

“So long as this is the directive, of course I will respect it,” he said. “It’s very unfortunate that as a result of a few incidents of incitement against the state by Arab MKs, the rest of the lawmakers have to pay the price and I am hopeful that logic will ultimately prevail.”

But he added: “At the same time, if this directive continues for a long time, it’s not impossible that I will weigh violating the ruling.”

On a tour of the Temple Mount, Yehuda Glick shows religious Jews a diagram of the Jewish temple, which once stood where the golden Dome of the Rock stands today, September 17, 2013, in Jerusalem Israel. (Christa Case Bryant/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
On a tour of the Temple Mount, Yehuda Glick shows religious Jews a diagram of the Jewish temple, which once stood where the golden Dome of the Rock stands today, September 17, 2013, in Jerusalem Israel. (Christa Case Bryant/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

Palestinians have cited Israeli “provocations” at the holy site as one of the main catalysts for months of violent attacks this year and late last year. They have become increasingly wary of Israel’s intentions at the holy site, often accusing the Jewish state of attempting to impose greater control over the compound, and even of planning to eliminate the mosque and establish Jewish hegemony there. Israel has repeatedly denied any change in the status quo at the site, under which Jews may visit, but may not pray.

Also Sunday, Netanyahu said that Israel was boosting security ahead of the upcoming Jewish High Holidays, after a surge in violence in the past few days.

Netanyahu’s comments came after what Israeli authorities said was the fifth attack on security forces or civilians since Friday, following weeks of relative calm.

The violence over the past few days came as Palestinians wrapped up the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Netanyahu said at the start of Sunday’s cabinet meeting that the army and police “are boosting their forces” ahead of the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur in October.

“The security forces are on heightened alert and I will meet with them today in order to ensure that we will be ready to defend our people during this sensitive period,” he said.

Earlier Sunday, a Palestinian stabbed and wounded an IDF officer in a West Bank settlement before being shot by forces at the scene, the army said. It said a “terrorist carried out a stabbing attack in Efrat and wounded an officer.”

Violence since last October has killed 34 Israelis, two Americans, one Eritrean and a Sudanese, according to an AFP count; 227 Palestinians and a Jordanian were also killed during that time. Israeli forces say most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks. Others were shot dead during protests and clashes or killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

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