Arab MKs to Visit Temple Mount despite PA Pressure

General strike in the Arab sector and large rally scheduled for Tuesday. MKs will try to enter Temple Mount Wednesday.

Nitsan Keidar ,

Arab Joint List MKs
Arab Joint List MKs
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

The Arab sector in Israel will hold a general strike Tuesday, and a large rally will be held at Sakhnin, in the Galilee.

The next day, on Wednesday, Arab MKs from the Joint List will try to enter the Temple Mount in a group, despite the Prime Minister’s decision not to allow politicians on the Mount.

The MKs intended to do the same thing Sunday but the Supreme Monitoring Committee of Israeli Arabs decided on Saturday to cancel the move, under pressure from the Palestinian Authority, which apparently wants to lower the flames of the current eruption of violence. This decision came under criticism inside the Arab sector and the committee reconvened Sunday and decided to hold the strike Tuesday, and that the MKs would ascend the Mount on Wednesday, along with the heads of the committee.

MK Jamal Zahalka – who tried on his own to enter the Temple Mount on Thursday, only to be blocked by security forces, said Sunday: “We demand an immediate end to the provocative visits by the Right to the Al Aqsa plaza and the cancellation of all limitations on the entry of Muslims to the Mosque.”

He accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of “continuing to pour fuel on the flames with his extreme statements and his attempts to limit the freedom of political action by threatening to outlaw the Islamic Movement and calling to place MK Hanin Zoabi on trial because she called for a popular struggle.”

“Netanyahu is behaving like the worst of the crazy back-bench Likud MKs,” said Zahalka.

No MKs allowed on Temple Mount

Last Thursday, the Prime Minister's Office clarified that Netanyahu's directive to ban ministers and MKs from the Temple Mount until further notice applies to Jewish and Arab Knesset members alike.

In order to “reduce tensions,” Netanyahu on Wednesday forbade ministers and MKs from his coalition from visiting the Temple Mount, leading to sharp criticism from some MKs and ministers. Minister Uri Ariel said that it was “abnormal and unfair to ban Jews from the Temple Mount. It is probably illegal to ban MKs and ministers from doing this, and it is certainly illegal to ban Jewish MKs but not Arab MKs.”

In a separate interview, Diaspora Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin said that he could “understand the logic in a situation where it is not a good idea for MKs or ministers to visit the Temple Mount. But it is not clear to me why this does not apply to MKs from the Arab United List, considering the level of incitement that emanates from them.”

MK Ahmad Tibi had intended to head a visit by MKs to the Temple Mount on Friday, but that, too, was called off. “Netanyahu first tried to calm things down by banning the entry of right-wing provocateurs like Uri Ariel to the site, but now he has made an about-face that will further aggravate things,” Tibi told Israel Radio

If Netanyahu wants to keep Jewish MKs off the Temple Mount, then more power to him, said Tibi, but he had better not try to keep him nor other Arab MKs away from the site. “This is an illegal, insane decision,” said Tibi. “To lump Arab MKs together with fanatics like Uri Ariel and Tzipi Hotovely is like accusing a homeowner of violence when he tries to defend his home from a robber. Al-Aqsa is ours. We will all be there on Friday."