Old City of Jerusalem
Old City of JerusalemIsrael news photo: Hana Levi Julian

The Islamic Movement in Israel warned Sunday against an alleged Israeli plan that, it says, will divide the Temple Mount between Jews and Muslims in a way that allows Jews to pray regularly, similar to current arrangements at the Cave of Machpela in Hevron.

Sheikh Kamal al-Hatib, Deputy Head of the movement headed by radical preacher Raed Salah, said that this is “a great danger,” and that political and technical preparations have already been readied. Now, he claims – all that is need is “a halakhic [Jewish legal] decree” in order to go ahead with implementation of the plan.

This is the last step before Jews declare that work has begun on building the Third Temple, he claimed.

Hatib said “The Palestinian people will rise up to defend Al Aqsa as it did after Ariel Sharon tried to defile it in 2000.” He called the Al Aqsa Mosque “the mouth of a volcano” that is “about to explode.”

The warning was likely relating to a bill, tabled by Religious Affairs Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home), which would allow Jews equal prayer rights on the Temple Mount. That bill has already drawn anger from Arab MKs, many of whom oppose the presence of Jews on the Mount altogether.

The Temple Mount is Judaism's holiest site, where the two holy Temples of Israel stood prior to their destruction, and where some Jewish traditions teach that the creation of the world began. 


But despite that fact, Jewish visitors to the Mount are subject to severe restrictions, including a complete ban on prayers or the performance of any other religious rituals, due to the presence of an Islamic complex there that is built on the ruins of the two Jewish Temples. This despite court orders rejecting such bans as illegally infringing on the right to freedom of religion.


Temple Mount activists have often cited such restrictions as an added imperative for Jews to frequent the Temple Mount, as a way of asserting Jewish rights at the holiest site in Israel. They also fear the "abandonment" of the Temple Mount to the Muslim Waqf trust, which administers the Islamic Al Aqsa complex, and which stands accused of the systematic destruction of Jewish artifacts on the Mount.