The Internal Affairs and Environment Committee convened on Tuesday to discuss motions for the agenda submitted by MKs Yinon Magal (HaBayit HaYehudi) and Miki Zohar (Likud) regarding the ”discrimination against Jews ascending the Temple Mount.”
Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud) abruptly ended the meeting following a heated exchange between Jewish and Arab MKs.
”This meeting was called due to the difficult situation on the Temple Mount, where Jews want to pray but cannot,” MK Magal said. ”Jews have a right to pray on the Mount, and the first goal should be to keep the order and allow Jews to peacefully and freely ascend [the Mount]. I expect the police to immediately clear the Murabitun (self-proclaimed guardians of the site) from the area – even permanently.”
MK Zohar said: ”I respect Islam, and I ask that my religion be respected as well and that all those who wish to visit a site that is holy to them be allowed to do so. It`s absurd that, in his own country, one cannot make a minimal gesture to [God]. There is a real fear for our freedom of religion in places that are holy to us. Jews are permitted to ascend the Mount only at specified times, and many times this is prevented from them as well. Why am I not allowed to visit a place that is holy to me? I never oppose any religious ritual – regardless of the religion.”
MK Masud Ganaim of the Joint Arab List said in response that ”there are many people in the West Bank who are denied freedom of religion.”
MK Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Camp) said he regrets the ”cynical use of the Internal Affairs Committee,” adding ”This is the 16th time you have brought this issue up in the past year and a half. Things have already been determined. The police and security forces have decided that the explosive situation must end and that the status quo must be restored. We are just before the month of Ramadan, and while the argument is always legitimate, the timing of the debate is awful.”
MK Magal interrupted Bahloul and said: ”And allow the crazy women with the masks (referring to the Murabitun) to continue to riot?”
MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint Arab List) said ”there are pyromaniacs here who are looking to make headlines for their patriotism. The [most revered] rabbis are against the issue and are thus preventing a major disaster. There is no problem visiting Al-Aqsa, unless these visits are provocative, with proclamations that they are coming to divide Al-Aqsa. That will not happen. You say the Muslims will agree to this, but they will never agree to it. Those who are trying to do it by force are spilling blood. We are against the spilling of blood.”
MK Magal in response: ”Are you issuing a threat? This is the terror for you. Who is the sovereign here? The Temple Mount is not conquered, it is liberated and it is ours. Do not threaten us with blood. It is ours, and you will not change history.”
MK Zahalka turned to right-wing Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick and said, ”You have spilled a lot of blood.” Then he turned to Committee Chairman Amsalem and said: ”Protect me from the fascists.”
Referring to Zahalka, MK Magal called to ”get the terrorist out of here.”
The Arab MKs demanded that MK Magal retract his comment, and he responded by saying, ”You can turn to the Ethics Committee. Do your shows and terror in Ramallah, not here.”
At this point MK Amsalem ended the meeting.
MKs Daniel Atar (Zionist Camp), Abd Al Hakeem Haj Yahya (Joint Arab List), Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) and Osama Sa`adi (Joint Arab List) also took part in the debate.