Zehut’s Feiglin says he wants to build Third Temple right away

Chairman of far-right party, which is enjoying growing popularity, is a longtime advocate of Jews’ rights on Temple Mount and has called for increased Israeli control over site

Zehut party chairman Moshe Feiglin speaks during a Maariv/Jerusalem Post Conference, in Tel Aviv on April 3, 2019. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)
Zehut party chairman Moshe Feiglin speaks during a Maariv/Jerusalem Post Conference, in Tel Aviv on April 3, 2019. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

The head of the far-right quasi-libertarian Zehut party said Wednesday that he wants to rebuild the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem immediately.

“I don’t want to build a (Third) Temple in one or two years, I want to build it now,” Moshe Feiglin said at a Maariv/Jerusalem Post conference in Tel Aviv, referring to the site that currently houses the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque and where both Jewish Temples stood in the past.

Such a move would be unrealistic in the extreme; suggestions of even small changes to the status quo on the tinderbox holy site, where Jews can currently visit but not pray, have met with vociferous and often violent protests.

Feiglin is a major supporter of building in Jewish settlements and Jews praying on the Temple Mount, and during his tenure as a Likud lawmaker repeatedly visited the contested compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, which is the holiest site in Judaism as well as the third-holiest spot in Islam.

“To build the Temple I need support, I can’t do it alone,” he said at the end of his speech.

Zehut’s 344-page manifesto calls for measures to move government facilities to the Temple Mount and give the Chief Rabbinate authority over the site.

Palestinian Muslim worshipers walk past the Dome of the Rock mosque, situated in the al-Aqsa compound on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, March 1, 2019, before Friday noon prayers. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

It also advocates annexing the entire West Bank, encouraging Palestinians to leave the territories, and curtailing the authority of the Supreme Court and the attorney general.

Zehut, which wasn’t initially predicted in opinion polls to clear the electoral threshold for entry to the Knesset in the April 9 elections, has surged in popularity in recent weeks and is currently polling at four to seven seats.

Feiglin has downplayed his past as an ultra-nationalist activist and insists he is currently focused on civic issues alone.

He is running on a pro-cannabis platform, and is also pushing a radical quasi-libertarian policy package with a religious and nationalist twist.

Pushed out of the ruling Likud party four years ago for his maverick attitude and extreme positions, Feiglin has taken the campaign by storm, putting cannabis high on the national agenda and forcing the frontrunners to take a stand on the issue.

With Feiglin insisting he does not have a preference between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and main rival Benny Gantz as Israel’s next premier, the party could emerge as a kingmaker in a tightly contested race.

Most Popular
read more: