TEL AVIV – The Israeli government discriminates against Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount in order to protect their safety, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Monday at the Knesset.
Speaking at a conference organized by MK Yehudah Glick (Likud), Erdan called the situation “complex and explosive,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
“The status quo on the Temple Mount today discriminates against Jews,” Erdan said.
“Muslims can pray there, and millions do each year.”
“Our biggest concern is for the security of the visitors,” he said.
Erdan said the government feared “violence and harassment” by Muslims on the Temple Mount, lamenting their “racist” attitude.
The aim of Glick’s conference was to urge more Jews to visit the Temple Mount. It also marked two years since he survived an assassination attempt by a Palestinian angered by Glick’s Temple Mount activism.
“Jerusalem is a city of peace,” Glick said at the conference. “Peace means many opinions. I didn’t agree with everything said today, but the beauty of a democratic state is that everyone can express opinions.”
Glick presented Erdan with a certificate in recognition of the latter’s efforts to make entry to the Temple Mount easier for Jews.
“I wouldn’t have believed two years ago, when you were hovering between life and death, that you would end up in the Knesset giving out certificates,” Erdan said “It goes to show you should never give up.”
Israel police do not have free rein on the Temple Mount and all policies must be coordinated through the Islamic Waqf, the Jordanian trust in charge of the holy site.
Alluding to the recent UNESCO resolutions erasing Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, Erdan said: “Our right to the Temple Mount is indisputable and no international group can rewrite history or deny that. The Temple Mount is the holiest place for the Jewish people; that cannot be changed.”
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein also referred to UNESCO, quipping: “If we don’t have a connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, why are we always fighting about it?”
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said in honor of the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s liberation in 2017, the Foreign Ministry will give diplomatic visitors artifacts found in the Temple Mount.
“Contrary to the attempts to Islamize the Temple Mount, Judaism does not take holy sites for itself, but allows free worship for all religions,” she said.
“Because my house will be a house of prayer for all nations,” she added, quoting from a High Holiday prayer about the Temple.
Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan urged the government to consider Jewish prayer regulations he drafted during his stint as deputy religious affairs minister.