Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper planned to tour the Temple Mount after visiting the Western Wall (Kotel) Tuesday, but the visit was torpedoed at the last minute by the Muslim Waqf, which said it would not allow Harper's security detail onto the Mount, since some of the bodyguards are Jewish, leading Temple activist Yehuda Glick told Arutz Sheva in an exclusive interview. Bnei Brith Canada confirmed the story.
There are also alternative versions of the events, however, and it cannot yet be said with complete certainty which is the correct one.
Members of Harper's entourage had made a preliminary tour of the Mount Sunday morning. The Waqf's announcement that it would not allow the Jewish bodyguards in was made at the last moment, supposedly because the Waqf did not know earlier that some of the guards were Jewish.
Harper would not enter the Mount without the bodyguards and the visit was cancelled, according to a press statement by B'nai Brith Canada.
“It is a shame that the Prime Minister’s visit to the Kotel was marred after he learned that his security detail would not be allowed in to the Dome of the Rock because they are Jewish,” said Frank Dimant, CEO, B’nai Brith Canada. “B’nai Brith delegations have also faced moments of discrimination and harassment on previous missions. We have raised this issue with Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom. Equal access must be given to Jewish worshipers wishing to ascend the Temple Mount. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the religious discrimination going on at the hands of the Islamic Waqf responsible for administering the site."
However, the Huffington Post has a different version of what happened.
"Planning and logistics required on a trip like this can be complicated and unfortunately we weren't able to make it work in a manner that satisfied the security organizations involved," Harper spokesman Jason MacDonald said of the decision to cancel the visit, according to the publication.
"Specifically,” he is cited as saying, “Shin Bet (the Israel Security Agency) would not guarantee that they would not enter the mosque."
While the Huffington Post quote is ambiguous, MacDonald was apparently saying that the Shin Bet refused to promise that if disturbances occur, its men would refrain from entering the Al Aqsa Mosque. It is not clear whether the people demanding this commitment were the Waqf or the Canadians.
Arutz Sheva spoke to sources in the Foreign Ministry who confirmed that the Waqf had cancelled Harper's visit. However, their version was that the Waqf simply refused to allow Canadian security men into the Temple Mount.
Glick, a prominent Temple activist and LIBA project coordinator, told Arutz Sheva Wednesday that he spoke to sources within Harper's entourage who confirmed that the Waqf refused to allow Jewish bodyguards into the Mount.
On Sunday, Glick accompanied a former Canadian minister on a tour of the Temple Mount. Stockwell Day, who served as Canada’s Minister of Public Safety between 2006 and 2008, visited the Temple Mount following a coincidental meeting with a resident of Jerusalem, Yosef Rabin, who regularly visits the Temple Mount compound.
An accompanying video shows Arabs – apparently fom the Waqf – shouting and employing a threatening tone as Glick and the Canadian group conducted the preliminary tour on Sunday.
Rabin said that his meeting with Day took place over Shabbat, when he visited friends for a Shabbat meal also attended by Day.
During the meal, Rabin told Arutz Sheva, he told the former Canadian minister about the situation on the Temple Mount where police, in an attempt to appease the Muslim Waqf which was left in charge of the compound after the 1967 Six Day War, ban Jews from praying or performing any other form of worship. 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.
“When I told Day about the situation on the Temple Mount, it pegged his interest and he asked me to arrange a visit for him,” said Rabin.
“This trip has been an amazing experience with the visit to the Kotel being one of the most touching,” said Eric Bissell, national president, B’nai Brith Canada. “As Prime Minister Harper approached the Western Wall, I could not help but think about how the Jewish people struggled for thousands of years for the freedom to pray at our holiest site. As a child survivor on the run during the nightmare of the Holocaust, this moment is more than I could ever have imagined or hoped to have been part of. To witness such support is a true miracle."