The Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, headed by MK Miri Regev (Likud), discussed on Wednesday police preparations for visits by Jewish worshippers to the Temple Mount during the High Holy Days and Sukkot.
Yehuda Glick, the director of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, told the MKs about severe incidents in which Muslims rioted at the holy site in east Jerusalem, which he said had reached their peak on Ramadan’s Laylat al-Qadr, which Muslims believe is the night the first verses of the Koran were revealed to Muhammad.
On that night, Glick said, “there was a pogrom on the Temple Mount.”
Videos posted online during the July 24 holiday showed Arab rioters looting the police station in the area and burning its contents. Rioters also replaced the Israeli flag atop the police station with a Palestinian flag.
MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) told police representatives at the meeting that “there is no status quo [for Israeli authority] on the Temple Mount, and you are allowing the next murder to happen.”
He suggested that there be a 100-meter empty buffer zone between Jews and Muslims at the site.
MK David Tsur (Hatenua), who headed a subcommittee to examine the status of the Temple Mount, proposed that Jews and Muslims be allowed on the site at different times. He recommended that the police not allow anyone who participated in rioting to return to the site.
“I see the mount as a place meant for prayer, not riots,” Tsur said.
Deputy Jerusalem District Police commander Dep.-Ch. Avshalom Peled said Jews would be allowed to visit the Temple Mount in the upcoming months, but there were public safety considerations. He noted that 492 people had been arrested after the police station was vandalized, and 188 of them had been indicted and would remain in custody until legal proceedings were concluded.
As for the officers’ absence from the station at the time, Peled said there had been an agreement that police would keep the station closed during Eid al-Fitr and not be present at the Temple Mount.
Committee Chairwoman Regev concluded the meeting by saying that ”there is a government instruction to allow Jews on the Temple Mount, and it must be implemented.”
Regev added that in extreme cases, such as when there are riots, the holy site should be closed to everyone, not just non-Muslims. She also suggested that Jews and Muslims be completely separated on the mount. Regev also said the committee would hold a follow-up meeting in November with the participation of the Internal Security Minister and the Attorney General.