Israel’s Interior Security Minister Advocates Right of Jews to Pray on Temple Mount in Jerusalem
Israel’s interior security minister endorsed changing the status quo on the Temple Mount in an interview on Tuesday, calling it an “injustice” that Jews are allowed to enter the holy site but are prohibited from praying.
Speaking during a radio interview in the wake of violent clashes on the Mount after Jewish worshippers sought to enter on the Tisha B’Av fast on Sunday, Israeli news site Walla quoted the minister, Gilad Erdan, as saying, “I think there’s an injustice in the status quo that has existed there since ’67, and we must act in order to change it.”
According to the status quo set up after the Six Day War in 1967, the Islamic Waqf exercises authority over the holy site. In recent years a “Temple Mount activist” movement has arisen among religious Jews that seeks to secure prayer rights and equal access to the Mount for Jewish worshipers.
Erdan — a key ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — declared that the status quo should be changed “in order that Jews in the future can pray on the Temple Mount, which is the holiest place to the Jewish people, and the third holiest place in Islam.”
“We must work to reach a situation in which the Jews can also pray,” he added. “But we must achieve this through political arrangements and not by force.”
Aviv Tatarsky of the left-wing group Ir Amim, which seeks to promote coexistence in Jerusalem, criticized Erdan’s statement, saying, “Most of the Israeli public respects the division in which Jewish worship takes place at the Western Wall and Muslim worship takes place on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.”
The public, he added, “Understands that this is the right situation until a political settlement is reached.”
Erdan, Tatarsky said, “prefers to join an extreme minority of the national religious community and strengthen it in exchange for personal political profit.”