Rightist MK visits Temple Mount as police brace for unrest

Police say five Jewish visitors were detained for ‘disturbing the peace’

Hawkish MK Moshe Feiglin seen at the Western Wall on November 2, 2014, in the old city of Jerusalem.  (photo credit: Sindel/Flash90)
Hawkish MK Moshe Feiglin seen at the Western Wall on November 2, 2014, in the old city of Jerusalem. (photo credit: Sindel/Flash90)

Police prepared for possible violence Sunday morning as authorities reopened access to the Temple Mount to Jews after a ban of several days.

Ignoring a plea from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to his coalition colleagues to calm tensions surrounding the Temple Mount issue, Likud MK Moshe Feiglin entered the compound along with a number of other Jewish visitors Sunday morning.

Pictures posted to Twitter showed Feiglin touring the site Sunday under heavy police guard.

While Muslim worshipers jeered at Feiglin, there were no reports of rioting or violence, according to Israel Radio.

However, police said they detained five Jewish visitors for “disturbing the peace.” Israeli news outlet Ynet reported that one Jewish man was detained in the Temple Mount compound and four others were detained while trying to reach the site via the Lions’ gate.

Dozens of other Jewish visitors along with Feiglin were also allowed onto the site, which had been closed since Thursday in the wake of the shooting of an activist who campaigned for Jewish rights on the holy site.

Feiglin was blocked from the area by police on Thursday as police shut the site to both Jews and Muslims for the first time in decades.

Feiglin spoke at a rally attended by several hundred people in central Jerusalem’s Safra Square on Saturday night to pray for the recovery of Yehudah Glick, who was severely injured in an attempted assassination on Wednesday night, and to back Glick’s demands for the right to Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.

Several violent clashes occurred in the capital Saturday night between security forces and Palestinian protesters: A small improvised bomb was hurled at police forces in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat, with no casualties reported; fireworks were launched at policemen in the Old City and in Wadi Joz; and a 13-year-old Arab teen attacked a Jewish man near the Old City’s Damascus Gate, and was arrested.

Police reopened the compound to Muslim worshipers on Friday, after coming under international pressure over the issue Thursday.

Over the weekend Jordan claimed that it was responsible for the reopening of the Temple Mount compound to Muslim worshippers, Kuwaiti news agency Kuna reported.

The report quoted a Jordanian government spokesman who claimed that King Abdullah II had appealed to the international community, which in turn pressured Israel to reopen the compound to Muslims.

Israel has barred Jews from praying on the mount since capturing the Old City in the 1967 war. Glick was a leading advocate of Jewish prayer at the site of the biblical temples, while many Orthodox religious leaders believe Jews should not pray there, for fear of bringing impurity to the sacred area.

Netanyahu has repeated several times in recent days that he does not intend to change the status quo.

Labor Party MK Eitan Cabel said Saturday that Israel should transfer control of the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Issawiya and Beit Hanina to the Palestinian Authority, but keep the capital united. Speaking at a cultural event in northern Israel, Cabel, who heads the opposition’s Labor’s Knesset faction, said restive Palestinian areas of Jerusalem should be handed over to PA control in the long term.

Jerusalem has been plagued by weeks of unrest, with daily riots in the predominantly Arab neighborhoods of Silwan, Shuafat, and Wadi Joz. Minor clashes erupted in the West Bank Friday after weekly Muslim prayers, while security forces deployed heavily around Jerusalem’s flashpoint al-Aqsa mosque in the Temple Mount compound.

Netanyahu on Saturday called on all Knesset members to work to calm tensions surrounding the Temple Mount. The prime minister spoke with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and asked for his assistance in reining in MKs on this issue and helping ensure they display responsibility and restraint, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

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