Desecration at Mount of Olives
Desecration at Mount of OlivesItamar Oren

The Temple Mount and the security situation on the Mount of Olives are on top of the agenda for Knesset Internal Affairs Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud), he revealed in an interview with Arutz Sheva on Wednesday. 

"We must allow the Jews who want it to pray on the Temple Mount," he stated. "It is the national consensus." 

When asked about how Arab MKs would respond to such a move, Amsalem stayed strong on his principles. 

"What does it matter what the Arabs say?" he said. "We're here, we're sovereign, and we have to make decisions and move forward."

According to Amsalem, most Israelis are aware of the historical and moral importance of the Temple Mount and want to allow equal prayer rights there.

However, he notes that, in his view, there are those who have - by making Jewish prayer rights on the Mount the main agenda - inadvertently turned off potential supporters by making the issue much larger than it really is. Amsalem did not elaborate specifically on this opinion, but did relate to recent conflict within the Committee that has made it more difficult to effectively discuss legislation. 

Amsalem also referred to recent reports of more vandalism on Jewish grave in the Mount of Olives cemetery. He made it clear that he is not offering or requesting for the site to be defined as a national heritage site - rather, he demands it. 

"This is a disgrace to the Jewish people," Amsalem fired. "The Mount of Olives is a cemetery from our history, the first national heroes are buried there, our rabbis and resistance fighters [are buried there]. This is a historic site. It's no longer just a cemetery, [like that of] Ashkelon or Kiryat Malachi." 

''I expect that the state will respect these values ​​even if it costs some money," he continued. "If it were in Europe there would be a huge outcry of 'anti-Semitism." 

"Tombstones are shattered there every day," he lamented. "Friends whose parents were buried there have called me and said they are too afraid to hold a memorial service. This is a disgrace." 

MK Amsalem added that if the place were defined as a national heritage site, it would have implications both in terms of security and in upkeep - putting an end to neglect. Not declaring it as such, he said, "is immoral." 

"We need to create security, no matter how much it costs," he urged. "There are now the means of doing so."

Amsalem wondered why the Prime Minister's Office has such strict security, whereas the Mount of Olives does not. 

"I'm sure the Mount of Olives has more citizens who need to be secured," he added. 

He noted, however, that it is not his job to pressure the Israel Police into doing their work securing the site. While he states that "it is their job, and for that they get a lot of money," he did add that the Police have two months to submit solutions to the security problem to the Committee.