Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday lifted his ban on allowing MKs and ministers to visit Har HaBayis, but the vast majority of officials who advocate allowing Jews to visit the site have decided not to take advantage of the opportunity. Only two – MKs Yehuda Glick and Shuly Muallem-Refaeli – entered the compound, under the watchful eye of police.
Gedolei Yisrael have ruled time and again that entering Har HaBayis at this time is not permitted. This is the first time since November 2015 that MKs have entered the compound. Police set several conditions on the visit, including requiring Jewish MKs to follow a specific route, and to use the Mughrabi Gate, near the Kosel, to enter the site. Arab MKs were allowed to visit the site as well, but all declined.
The objective of the ban was to prevent the site from being used for political speeches and activities. The decision to allow the visits comes after numerous petitions and complaints by MKs, but several who are advocates of visiting the site declined to do so.
“I am not prepared to enter Har HaBayis like a thief in the night with the lifting of this ‘ban’ that was illegally placed on MKs,” said Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich. “Har HaBayis is the holiest site in the world for Jews, and Israel must activate its sovereignty there.”
Arab MKs said that they, too, did not accept the authority of Netanyahu to ban them from the site. “We want to go to Al Aqsa when we want, not when Netanyahu wants,” said United Arab List MK Taleb a-Sana. “We will decide for ourselves when and how to visit.”