Minister Ariel ascends Temple Mount

Agriculture minister apparently first MK to take advantage of change in policy regarding MK visits to Temple Mount.

Hezki Baruch ,

Minister Ariel on Temple Mount
Minister Ariel on Temple Mount
Elyasaf Ofen

Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel arrived Sunday morning to the Temple Mount ahead of the Tisha B'Av fast over the destruction of the Temple which takes place in two weeks. He joined the first group of Jews to ascend the mountain this morning.

"We hope and pray that Tisha B'Av will be a day of joy, as the prophet says, that the Temple will be built and we will be able to sacrifice all the sacrifices about which we read this week in Parshat Pinchas,” Ariel told those with whom he ascended.

Minister Ariel, who used to visit the Temple Mount frequently, is apparently the first Knesset member to visit after a change in the prime minister's policy on the subject, which was reported last week.

After the prime minister last week gave agreement in principle to the renew permission for MKs to ascend the Temple Mount, Knesset officer Yosef Grif issued a document to MKs seeking to ascend.

Among the conditions in the document, which was formulated at the request of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, is that an MK who wants to ascend the mount must send a letter to the Knesset officer 24 hours before the visit, specifying the date and time of the requested visit.

The Knesset officer will coordinate MK visits with police, and the commissioner or the Jerusalem district commander will approve each visit specifically according to assessments of the situation.

Jewish MKs who wish to visit will be limited to visitation hours of Jews to the Temple Mount and the rules applicable to non-Muslim visitors visiting the Temple Mount. Muslim MKs will be permitted to ascend the mountain only through the Gate of the Tribes, and only starting from half an hour after the end of Jewish visiting hours.

MKs will not be allowed to make speeches on the mount, or to provide media interviews or meetings at Waqf offices on the mount. Likewise police will be entitled to set additional conditions for visits by MKs to maintain the peace and security of the visit.

In his conversation with Grif, Knesset Speaker Edelstein stressed, "As someone who has always supported the possibility of MKs ascending the Temple Mount, we must implement this decision as soon as possible. MKs, like every citizen of Israel, are entitled to visit the Temple Mount and the holy places. I call on all MKs to act in accordance with the directives and to avoid unnecessary provocations."