Arab Politician Flaunts Rule Aimed at Reducing Temple Mount Tensions

The Arabs are still stoking tensions atop the Temple Mount. Illustrative banner of terrorists and Dome of the Rock. By Joshua Spurlock

The Arabs are still stoking tensions atop the Temple Mount. Illustrative banner of terrorists and Dome of the Rock in Ramallah. By Joshua Spurlock, 2007

In an effort to prevent things from heating up even further, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed that no members of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) be allowed into the Temple Mount compound, whether they are Jewish or Arab. But on Wednesday, one Knesset Member (MK) chose to ignore the rule, and he wasn’t Jewish.

Arab MK Bassel Ghattas from the Joint Arab List party alliance ascended the Temple Mount, and the Ma’an News Agency reported that he refused to be turned away even by the Israeli police. The Palestinian media Ma’an report termed Ghattas a “Palestinian Member of the Knesset” despite the fact that he is an Israeli citizen and enjoys the political freedom to serve in the Israeli national government. Netanyahu strongly criticized Ghattas’ decision to ascend the Temple Mount at this sensitive time.

“The Temple Mount has been quiet for two weeks. We are making every effort to maintain this quiet, but it would seem that someone is disturbed by this,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office. “MK Ghattas went up to the Temple Mount, went to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. I assure you he did not do it in order to pray, he did it solely for the purpose of provocation, only to inflame the situation.”

While MKs are prohibited from entering the holy site over sensitivities, things were calm enough last Friday for Muslims of any age to enter the Temple Mount to pray, according to Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld’s Twitter feed. He said prayers occurred without incident.

Tensions have been stoked by Palestinian incitement that Israel seeks to change the “status quo” atop the Temple Mount, where only Muslims are allowed to pray. This has occurred despite numerous statements by Netanyahu denying that the status quo has been changed or will be.

This wave of terrorism has continued in Israel even after the announcement of efforts by Israel and Jordan to install cameras at the Temple Mount to document what is really happening there, like MK Ghattas’ violation of the rules.

Said Netanyahu on Wednesday, “I will not let any Knesset member or minister ignite the Temple Mount, and I call on all members of the Knesset and public figures in general to act responsibly, especially at this time.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, October 28, 2015)

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