Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has followed the Jordanian Waqf (Islamic trust) directives banning Jews from praying on the Temple Mount – but on Monday, he and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon did let Palestinian Authority (PA) unity government President Rami Hamdallah pray at the site.
The permission given to Hamdallah was announced through the semi-official PA news site Wafa.
According to the reports, not only would the head of the PA unity government with Hamas be allowed to pray at the holiest site in Judaism, but he would be accompanied by the PA “governor” of Jerusalem Adna al-Husseini and senior officials from the PA Security Forces.
The permission reportedly has been passed over to Interior Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich (Yisrael Beytenu) to confirm and arrange.
The visit is not the first controversial prayer session held at the holy site; early this month 500 residents of Gaza were allowed to pray at the site where Jews are forbidden to pray, as a “gesture” for Eid al-Adha, the Muslim holiday celebrating Abraham’s “sacrifice of Ishmael” in an appropriation of the original Torah story.
One with Hamas
Hamdallah recently held the first PA unity government cabinet session in Gaza earlier this month, meeting with Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the Hams terrorist group, in a joint press conference. In it, Haniyeh said “the division in the Palestinian people has ended. We have one government and one region.”
The Temple Mount has been the site of constant Arab rioting, with police officers targeted in an unending shower of rocks and firebombs as part of an attempt to block Jewish access to the holiest site in Judaism.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II last week pressed Israel to clarify reports that a vote would be held next month on allowing Jews to exercise their religious rights and pray at the site.
In response, Netanyahu pledged to Jordan that there would be no change in the status quo, meaning Jews would continue being banned from praying despite the provision in Israeli law for religious freedom.
Netanyahu likewise vowed to “maintain the status quo” on the Mount the week before that, after a particularly violent bout of Arab rioting at the holy site, promising not to act to allow safe Jewish access to the site of the First and Second Temple.
The prime minister also succumbed to Jordanian pressure last month, canceling construction on a second access ramp to the Temple Mount’s only gate allowed for non-Muslim entry.