Right-wing Temple Mount activist and soon-to-be Knesset member Yehuda Glick on Monday was chided by the prime minister for ascending the powder keg holy site shortly before he is set to take up his post as the Likud’s newest lawmaker.
Glick, an advocate for Jewish prayer at the holy site, toured the esplanade with his wife surrounded by a dozen or so police officers.
As he left the Temple Mount Monday, Glick thanked officers for protecting him during his visits, telling them, “I have no idea when I will be able to return here.”
“Know that everything that I do stems from the peace this place represents. I hope that it’s remembered that peace is the name of God, and everything I do for the country, the people and for Jerusalem, is driven by this city, the city of peace.
“I hope that light, goodness, blessings, bounty and peace will prevail in the place and everywhere else on earth” he added.
In a bid to quell the recent surge in violence, last year Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu banned ministers and Knesset members from entering the holy site.
Though the American-born Glick had yet to be sworn in as a Knesset member, Netanyahu made clear he disapproved of the gesture. Glick is set to be sworn in this week.
“This is the last time you do this to me,” Netanyahu could be heard telling a seemingly surprised Glick at the end of a Likud faction meeting.
“What did I do? Earlier today I called up [Internal security minister] Erdan in the US and I told him about the whole thing,” Glick told the prime minister in response.
The resignation of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Friday opened the way for Glick — who was next in line on the Likud party list — to enter the Knesset.
Over the weekend, Glick told Hebrew-language media outlets he had no intention of violating Netanyahu’s Temple Mount ban. “With my entrance to politics, I am a team player and not an individual one,” he said.
The nationalist rabbi is loathed by many Palestinians, who see as a provocation any Jewish presence at the flashpoint mosque complex in Jerusalem’s Old City which houses Islam’s third-holiest shrine.
In 2014, Glick was shot four times by a Palestinian from East Jerusalem over his vocal advocacy on behalf of Jews’ prayer rights on the Temple Mount.
Jews believe the site was home to the first and second Jewish temples before being destroyed by the Babylonians and Romans, and thus revere it as the holiest site in Judaism. Current rules governing the site allow Jews to visit during set hours but not to pray there, for fear of stoking tensions.
In December, Glick told The Times of Israel his goal is “for the Temple Mount to become a ‘house of prayer for all nations.’ Anybody who wants to pray to God — the Temple Mount should be the place to do it. And anybody who has a violent agenda should not be there.”
He rejects Palestinian statehood, calling for a one-state solution and for “encouraging options for any Arabs who want to move out of here.”
Eventually, he said he believes, Jews will be able to pray on the Temple Mount. “Whether it’s in two years, five years or 10 years from today, I don’t know. I have patience.”
He also said that if he were to enter the Knesset, he would continue to advocate Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount from within parliament.
“Just as I do it today outside the Knesset, I’ll try to do it inside the Knesset,” he said. “If I am in the Knesset, I will try do my best to change the situation on Temple Mount.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.