Until recently, an outspoken activist for Jews being allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, MK Itamar Ben Gvir was wrong about that on Sunday, just as he is about to take responsibility for the Israel Police, the body that establishes the day to day. -day policies on the site.
Ben Gvir, who will soon occupy the new title of minister of national securityavoided answering when asked in an interview with Kan public radio whether he planned to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. Still, he vaguely said that he would work to address the current situation that Jews cannot pray at the holy site, calling it “racist.”
The comments marked a notable departure from his unequivocal rhetoric on the Temple Mount on the campaign trail, when he repeatedly stressed the need for Jews to show they “own the place.” Ben Gvir is a regular visitor to the Flashpoint site.
“Will the national security minister allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount?” Kan journalist Kalman Liebskind asked Ben Gvir on Sunday.
“The national security minister will seek clarification and work against racist policy on the Temple Mount,” the MK replied.
Liebskind’s co-host, Asaf Liberman, noted that the person who would need to provide “clarification” on the position of the police on the Temple Mount would be none other than the national security minister.
“Itamar Ben Gvir would demand clarification from the national security minister, who would call Itamar Ben Gvir to clarify,” Liberman joked.
Since much of the policies on the ground on the Temple Mount are not set by official government rulings, but rather by the police stationed on the site, from visiting hours for Jews to what pilgrims are allowed to do in the bush, the responsible minister because the police would have significant power over those decisions.
Ben Gvir reiterated his opposition to a “racist policy” of restricting non-Muslims from praying, without explaining what a new policy would look like.
Asked if he had demanded that Jewish prayer be allowed on the Temple Mount as a condition of joining the government of incoming presumed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ben Gvir also refrained from answering.
“Some things are just between me and the prime minister,” he said.
In recent years, a group of far-right Jewish activists have worked to turn the fringe issue of Jewish visits to the Temple Mount into a mainstream issue in right-wing and religious circles. Although many leading rabbis outlaw Jews ascending the mount as they may inadvertently step on forbidden holy ground, including rabbinic leaders who back the two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, which will join the next government, more and more . Orthodox rabbis have approved the practice.
Israel once firmly banned Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, but over the years the ban has slowly eroded, with silent individual prayer and occasional group services now not uncommon.
Temple Mount activists argue that allowing Muslim prayer while prohibiting Jewish public prayer at the shrine, the holiest site in Judaism, constitutes discrimination. Opponents say allowing Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount would spark major protests and riots by Muslims across the Middle East, as well as damage Israel’s diplomatic ties with Jordan, which has a special relationship with the Temple Mount.
Last year saw a record number of Jewish visits to the Temple Mount.
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