U.S. Slams Israel Over Temple Mount Prayer Policies
The annual report on religious freedom by the U.S. State Department slams Israel for limiting the rights of worshipers on the Temple Mount – not Muslim worshipers, who have complete freedom to worship any way they want, but for discriminating against Jews. The report was cited in a story by Yisrael Hayom Thursday, which said that the State Department document was highly critical of Israel for preventing Jews from praying or even ascending the Temple Mount on occassion.
The State Department report cited all the significant facts in the situation. Israel's official policy is to allow freedom of religion and worship for all, but police have prevented Jews from praying on the Temple Mount because they fear unrest. The High Court, said the report, has clearly stated that Jews have a right to pray at the site, but police have refused to fulfill that order, because of “security concerns.”
The report added that while on a whole, everyone is allowed access to the Temple Mount, only Muslims are allowed to pray there. “Police direct the pedestrian traffic onto and off the Mount, and if they see a non-Muslim who appears to be praying they remove them. In addition, non-Muslim visitors are not permitted to wear clothing with symbols of their religions on the Mount. If they do so they are removed as well,” the report said.
The report also criticized the fact that non-Muslims are not permitted to step inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a policy that was instituted in 2000.
The report also criticized the Israeli Interior Ministry, which often “temporarily prohibits entry into Israel of individuals for religious reasons.” The report was referring to individuals suspected of being Christian missionaries.
And, the report also criticized the place of religion in official Israeli life. Although the rabbinate and government religious institutions are Orthodox, the report said, “most Israeli Jews oppose the rule of the Orthodox minority on Israeli religious institutions.”