Netanyahu, Rivlin Appeal to MKs: Restore Calm on Temple Mount

Prime Minister and President call ministers and MKs, ask to quiet down struggle on Temple Mount. 'We are not at war with Islam.'

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Gil Ronen,

Netanyahu and Rivlin
Netanyahu and Rivlin
Haim Zach, GPO

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin jolined forces Thursday in an attempt to defuse the current tension regarding Jewish prayer and Muslim violence on the Temple Mount.

The two explained that Israel is "not at war with Islam, but with extreme terrorist elements."

In an unusual move, the two head statesmen began making a series of phone calls to ministers and MKs, and asked them to restrain themselves and “show responsibility” in their words and actions on the matter.

According to Channel 2, the joint step is being taken following Jordan's decision Wednesday to recall its ambassador from Israel, and the concern that relations between the countries is deteriorating.

After the attempt to murder Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick last Wednesday, Netanyahu spoke to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) and asked him to talk to MKs and try to get them to restrain the struggle for Jewish prayer rights on the Mount.

The Channel 2 report does not mention any MKs by name but it is likely that a primary target of the persuasion efforts is MK Moshe Feiglin of Likud, who has spearheaded the attempt to reclaim rights for Jews on the Temple Mount.

Arab MK Ahmed Tibi (Raam Taal) has led the opposition to Jewish rights, saying flat out that the Jews have no rights on the Temple Mount. 

Following yesterday's series of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and Gush Etzion, and despite pressure from some members of his coalition to grant Jews freedom of worship on the Temple Mount, the Prime Minister's Office has reiterated that no such moves are in the works.

"In last night's security consultation, the Prime Minister made it clear that there will be no change in the status quo on the Temple Mount and that whoever expresses a different opinion is presenting a personal view and not the policy of the Government," said the PM's spokesperson Mark Regev.

Netanyahu said Thursday that he spoke to King Abdullah of Jordan and "we agreed that we'll do every effort to calm the situation."

"I explained to him that we're keeping the status quo on the Temple Mount and that this includes Jordan's traditional role there, as consistent with the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan," said Netanyahu.

In the call, "Netanyahu reiterated Israel's commitment to preserve the status quo on the Temple Mount as well as Jordan's special status at the site," according to a state of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

The spike in Arab violence in Jerusalem, including the vehicular attacks that Hamas has branded "the car intifada," has also been attributed by some observers to the tension over the Temple Mount.

However, Jewish nationalists have pointed out that Muslim rioters do not need the Temple Mount as an excuse for rioting, and that in past decades some of the worst Arab violence, including the heinous massacre of 1929 (Meoraot Tarpat), came in response to Jewish prayer at the Western Wall, below the Mount.