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      Former MK Eldad: Time to Treat the Temple Mount Like a Holy Site

      Former MK slams government's conduct with respect to the Temple Mount, after secret report reveals serious Israeli failures since 1967.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 12/30/2013, 3:16 AM

      Professor Aryeh Eldad
      Professor Aryeh Eldad
      Flash 90

      Former MK Professor Aryeh Eldad, head of the Professors for a Strong Israel organization, sharply criticized on Sunday the way the State of Israel has been conducting itself since 1967 with respect to the Temple Mount.

      Eldad’s remarks come in the wake of the publication of the contents of a secret report by the State Comptroller regarding the enforcement, or lack thereof, of the law at the Temple Mount.

      The report was not made public in Israel because of concerns that doing so would result in violence. However, The Jewish Voice, a New York-based Jewish website got its hands on the report and published it last week. The report reveals some disturbing truths about the methods taken by the Waqf to remove any ties that the Jewish people have to the Temple Mount and how Israeli institutions cooperated with these actions.

      Eldad told Arutz Sheva that the contents of the report, as they were published by the American website, indicate how much the government failed when it abandoned the Temple Mount and left it in the hands of the Waqf which was appointed by the Jordanian government.

      He further noted that the report shows that the Jerusalem Municipality , the Israel Antiquities Authority and other law enforcement officials do not operate on the Temple Mount. Only the police operates on the Temple Mount, but it avoids confrontation with the Waqf in order to maintain its good relations with it. When this is the case, said Eldad, it is no wonder that the Arab illegal construction at the site continues undisturbed.

      Asked whether he can accept the Israeli position that it is better to maintain peace and quiet on the Temple Mount rather than confront the Waqf, Eldad responded that such a consideration could be acceptable had the subject matter not been the Temple Mount, the holiest site to Jews.

      "You can decide to ignore the Bedouin land theft in the Negev, but the Temple Mount is the most important issue there is,” he told Arutz Sheva. “It’s not for nothing that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu described the Temple Mount as the rock of our existence, and if he means what he said and it was not just empty chatter, then the site should be treated accordingly and we must not allow the Waqf to destroy the remains of the First and Second Temple and build an illegal construction site.”

      The Temple Mount is Judaism's holiest site and the location of the two Holy Temples of Jerusalem, the latter of which was destroyed by the Romans in 70CE.

      Despite that fact, Jewish visitors face severe restrictions upon ascending the Mount, including a blanket ban on praying or on performing any other form of worship, as well as restrictions on the size of groups which can ascend. Those who violate the restrictions face arrest and a prolonged ban from ascending altogether.

      Numerous court rulings have stipulated that Jews must be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount as a basic right to freedom of religion. Nevertheless, the Israeli police force has repeatedly ignored the rulings, citing unspecified "security concerns" as a pretext to continue enforcing the ban.

      Police sometimes close the Mount to Jews altogether in response to Muslim riots - for days or weeks at a time - despite evidence that such violence is usually planned in advance for the specific purpose of forcing Jews out. Prominent Israeli MKs, such as Moshe Feiglin and Zeev Elkin, have been forced to leave the Temple Mount due to fears of violence.

      The Waqf, which was left in charge of the Temple Mount after Israel liberated it during the 1967 Six Day War, consistently destroys Jewish antiquities on the compound in a direct violation of a ruling by the Supreme Court.