MK Uri Ariel of the Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi) party, who serves as housing minister, called for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount. He was speaking at the Shilo Conference on Biblical Research and Archaeology. Perhaps he envisioned the words of the prophet, “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former, saith the LORD of hosts; and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:9).
“We’ve built many little, little temples,” Ariel said, meaning synagogues, “but we need to build a real Temple on the Temple Mount.”
On Friday, left-wing Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, released a poll, the results of which showed one-third of Israelis want the temple rebuilt in Jerusalem. The poll, commissioned by the Joint Forum of Temple Mount Organizations received 30% of the votes in favor of rebuilding the temple, 45% against and 25% unsure.
The survey was released just days before the observance of Tisha B’Av, a day in which the Jews mourn the destruction of The Temple.
Despite the survey results, Ariel’s comments are controversial for two reasons. First, the rabbinic establishment has generally maintained that Jews are forbidden from treading on the sacred ground of the Temple mount due to a prevailing state of ritual impurity. Additionally, only priests are ever permitted into certain areas.
The second reason his comments are controversial is that they upset the delicate status quo surrounding the Temple Mount. Holy to both Jews and Muslims, upon recapturing the Old City in 1967, the Israeli government opted to turn over control of the Mount to the Muslim Waqf and generally prevent Jewish worship there for fear of inciting violence.
Once home to both the first and second Temple, the mount now houses the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock.
Ariel is not the first MK to suggest rebuilding the Temple at its original location. Last year, MK Zevulun Orlev also suggested razing the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque for that purpose. He admitted that the “billion-strong Muslim world would surely launch a world war,” but added, “everything political is temporary and there is no stability.”