January 26, 2006

On Jewish Access to the Temple Mount

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:44 am by yisraelmedad

Barak Under Pressure to Increase Jewish Access to Temple Mount
By Patrick Goodenough
CNS Jerusalem Bureau Chief
10 August, 1999

Jerusalem (CNS) – An Israeli organization which has been pushing for 30 years for Jewish access to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount urged Prime Minister Ehud Barak Tuesday to use the opportunity provided by illegal Palestinian construction work in the area, and change the prevailing status quo at the site.

Yisrael Medad, who heads the lobby called “To the Mount of the Lord,” told CNSNews.com the group wanted Barak to permit Jews to enter the Temple Mount compound to pray.

He was speaking hours after Israeli police moved swiftly to reseal an entrance which the Islamic authority (the Waqf) opened in the ancient southern wall to the compound, in contravention of the law and the sensitive religious status quo.

The Israeli cabinet announced in a statement that Barak had “said this is the sort of suitable response we will take wherever people will violate the law and try to establish facts on the ground.”

The action came after the Waqf ignored warnings by security officials not to go ahead with the plan to break open the entrance.

Since Israel captured the area from the Jordanians in 1967, it has permitted continued Muslim administration over the Mount, location of two mosques, one of them – Al Aqsa – considered the third holiest in Islam.

The decision was intended as a gesture to the Muslim world, which is particularly sensitive to the fact the mosques fall under Israeli sovereignty. At the same time, many observant Jews are pained that the location of the ancient Temple, their most sacred site, is under the control of a Muslim body that denies Jews access for prayer.

The police action overnight to close the new entrance was taken after long consultations between Barak and security officials, who weighed up the possibility Palestinian violence may erupt as a result. Police presence in the area was stepped up.

The PLO-appointed head of the Waqf, Mufti Ikrama Sabri, called the police operation “a flagrant aggression on the Islamic holy sites.”

Medad said the status quo on the Temple Mount was not being scrupulously maintained, and argued that it should be amended.

“The status quo is a fiction. In recent years, two new underground prayer halls have been opened [by the Muslims]. The renovation works have damaged historical finds from the Jewish period and we assume that this is being done purposely.”

He said Barak could have “turned the tables” on the Waqf by announcing that a new entrance would be built to enable Jews to access the Mount, and designating an area on the platform – “away from the Muslim buildings” and approved by rabbis – which could be used as a synagogue.

Medad stressed that his group, which was formed in 1971, promoted its cause “in the political and legal realm,” unlike other Jewish organizations which have used more virulent forms of protest.

He said “To the Mount of the Lord” has been critical over the years of Israeli governments which had “turned a blind eye” to Muslim activities on the Mount in violation of the status quo.

In September 1996, riots erupted after the Netanyahu government opened an exit to an ancient archeological tunnel running parallel to, but outside of, the Temple Mount compound.

Sixty Arabs and 15 Israelis died during clashes which occurred after Palestinian political and religious leaders accused Israel of desecrating Muslim holy sites.

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