”Knesset members who sneak on to the Temple Mount are despicable,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said Wednesday after MK Basel Ghattas of the Joint Arab List ascended the holy site in east Jerusalem earlier in the day despite the ban imposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for all parliamentarians and ministers from visiting the site as part of the effort to curb the wave of Palestinian violence.
Speaking before the Knesset Finance Committee, Erdan justified the PM`s decision, but said that once the terror wave passes, elected officials should not be banned from the Temple Mount for extensive periods of time.
”There is a status-quo that worked well for years,” Erdan added. ”Maybe it is not the optimal situation, but it works. Muslims pray, and Jews and other people can visit.”
The minister said, ”We can defeat this current wave of terror. It too will pass. I have faith in the public leaders of all the sectors, who understand what their communities really need. Unfortunately, just this morning one of the Arab MKs infiltrated the Temple Mount as a provocateur.”
He told the committee that his office would soon present a multi-year plan ”for strengthening the police force in the face of the domestic challenges.”
Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) told Erdan that the Public Security Ministry should receive additional funding, and said that despite the terror wave, the problems within Israel Police must be addressed. ”We must make certain that the organization is in fact clean,” he stated.
MK Tamar Zandberg expressed concern over the relaxed gun licensing laws, and criticized the decision to set up numerous roadblocks in Jerusalem and specifically within Arab neighborhoods.
Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein called on members of the coalition not to respond to Ghattas` visit to the Temple Mount by visiting the site themselves. During Wednesday`s plenary session, he said: ”Let`s not respond with our own protests. Let us, at least, act as human beings. Enough! Enough! Enough! We do not have to wait until there is bloodshed. One can be a Knesset member without being a pyromaniac.”
As for whether parliamentary immunity should nullify the order for lawmakers not to visit the Temple Mount, Edelstein said that security officials explained to him why MKs visiting the holy site is dangerous, and he does not oppose the ban.