Rabbi Ya'akov Meidan, head of the Har Etzion Hesder Yeshiva, said Wednesday that Shabak officials had encouraged him to bring Jews to the Temple Mount. A report on Israel Radio Thursday said that Rabbi Meidan had made the comments at an event Wednesday at the Begin Heritage Center, with officials encouraging the visits in order to strengthen the Jewish presence on the Mount.
Rabbi Meidan said that top Shabak officials had told him that they realized that without an ongoing and strong Jewish presence on the Mount, Israel was liable to “lose” it, eventually finding Jews banned from entering altogether as Arabs, emboldened by Israel's refusal to embrace the site, would take steps to keep Jews off the Mount.
They also said they realized that Jews were hesitant to go up to the Mount, because of the difficult circumstances they faced there, Rabbi Meidan said. Currently, Jews are allowed to go up to the Temple Mount, but only in small groups. They are followed around by a Muslim cleric, who checks to see if their lips are moving, as in prayer. If Jews are “caught” praying, they are ejected from the Mount, by an Israeli police officer. Often Jews are held for hours by police, and in some cases police have charged Jews for “inciting riots” and “creating public disorder” for not complying with the no-prayer demand.
At the event, retired High Court President Dalia Dorner said that Jews should be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount. The Court, she said, had nothing to say on this matter, and that the matter was up to the Knesset. The Court had nothing to say about it, said Dorner, in the same way as “it has nothing to say about blowing up the nuclear reactor in Iraq.”
Rabbi David Stav, a candidate for the position of Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi, said that it was the responsibility of the government to ensure a Jewish presence on the Mount, and to allow freedom of religion for Jews at the site. The government also had a responsibility, he said, to ensure that “the Arab enemies of Israels do not destroy the Jewish heritage of the site” by dismantling archaeological finds.