Daily Israel Report

Feiglin Challenges Waqf Control over Temple Mount

Likud MK rejects police letter claiming an official "government decision" to hand control over Temple Mount to Islamic authorities.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 9/15/2013, 12:10 PM

MK Feiglin
MK Feiglin
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The legal adviser to Israel's police force, Brigadier General Paul Gordon, has responded to a letter submitted by MK Moshe Feiglin, in which the Likud lawmaker challenged the Israeli government's decision to hand control over the Temple Mount to the Islamic "Waqf" trust.

In a letter to police commissioner Yochanan Danino, Feiglin objected to the preferential treatment given to Muslims on Judaism's holiest site. Despite it's supreme importance, Jews are forbidden from praying or carrying out any religious rituals on the Mount, and are subject to many other severe restrictions - including periodic blanket closures to Jewish visitors - out of deference to an Islamic complex built on top of the ruins of the two Jewish Temples.

In his response, Gordon stated that the policy of Muslim control over the Temple Mount was a government decision taken immediately after the liberation of Jerusalem in 1967.

Feiglin, however, was unimpressed.

"Since I am not aware of any such government decision since 1967 to grant control over the Mount to the Waqf, I request that you supply me with a copy [of the decision," he retorted.

Feiglin went on to point out that - far from deciding to hand the site over the Muslim authorities - a number of ministerial committees clearly stated that the opposite was true.

He cited a statement from 1968 by Israeli cabinet minister Yaakov Shapira, in which he explicitly says that: "We [the government - ed.] never announced that the Temple Mount belonged exclusively to the Arabs. We did not announce that it was forbidden for Jews to pray there, [and] we did not announce that it was forbidden for Jews to erect a synagogue there."

On that basis, Feiglin called on the authorities to end the "discriminatory" practices against non-Muslims on the Mount, and demanded an end to the presence of Waqf "stewards" who work with the police in order to identify and remove Jews who they suspect of breaking the rules against Jewish prayer.