Netanyahu reassures: Status quo on Temple Mount will not change

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The status quo on the Temple Mount will not change, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated.

“In last night’s security consultation, the Prime Minister made it clear that there will be no change in the status quo on the Temple Mount and that whoever expresses a different opinion is presenting a personal view and not the policy of the Government,” Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev said Thursday in a statement.

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The statement comes following continued and increasing violence at the site, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims.

Under the status quo, the Temple Mount is under control of the Muslim Wakf, as it has been since 1967, and only Muslims are permitted to pray at the site, though Jews and Christians may visit the site.

Israel reportedly has been reassuring foreign governments of its commitment to the status quo in recent days.

Since the shooting last week of Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick, several right-wing lawmakers have visited the site.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman took to the Israeli airwaves on Thursday to criticize Israeli lawmakers for the visits.

The lawmakers are seeking headlines, Liberman told Israel Radio Thursday morning.  He told Army Radio that the visitors, from the Likud and Jewish Home parties, “only know how to light a flame and to exploit a situation for their own political gains,” and pointed out that no members of his party had gone up to the site.

“I am in favor of wise policy. I am in favor of acting and not shouting,” Liberman said. “You have to act wisely in this region.”

Likud lawmaker Moshe Feiglin, who visited the Temple Mount in the wake of the shooting of Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick, and who visits the site once a month, said that Liberman and others who believe in sticking to the status quo “are giving a prize to terrorism and guarantee its escalation.”

Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel over the issue of the Temple Mount, charging that Israeli forces entered deep into the Al-Aksa Mosque on Wednesday when it chased rioting Muslim workers into the building.

Israeli officials told local media that the forces stopped at the entrance to the mosque, where they saw stockpiles of rocks and firebombs ready to be used on Israeli forces and visitors to the Temple Mount.