Knesset Member Amichai Chikli (Yamina) was turned away by the Israeli police on Monday when he attempted to enter the Temple Mount compound. Chikli arrived at a time when Jews were permitted to enter however he was turned away with the explanation that he had not given the 24-hours notice required from Knesset members.
Chikli, who is not openly religious and does not wear a kippah, expressed his political motivation for the visit to the Temple Mount in a Hebrew-language interview on Channel 2 News.
“We are entering a difficult period,” Chikli said. “In the area of security, Israel is giving the message that we are weak. In the nationalist arena, we are also giving the message that we are weak. In this expression of nationalism, we have to be without any complications. The land of Israel belongs to the nation of Israel. The nation of Israel has a right to our own country.”
“Even in the centrist parties, you hear messages to cancel the Jewish nation-state law. People want to change it to something about equality. There is no question that here in Israel, we have equality. But the equality is along the lines of citizenship, not nationalism…On a national level, this is the Jewish nation. But it is equal to every citizen. These points are being blurred.
Otzma Yehudit chairman Itamar Ben-Gvir announced that in response, he would arrive at the Temple Mount on Tuesday.
“Ahmad Tibi and the Knesset members from the Joint List do not coordinate with the Israel Police their arrival at the Temple Mount. There’s no reason they are don’t and we do,” Ben-Gvir tweeted. “I will be arriving at 1:30 and the police must carry out the letter of the law by permitting MKs to enter the Temple Mount.”
Visits by politicians to the Temple Mount are considered hooghly sensitive. Such a visit by Ariel Sharon in 2000 is credited with sparking the Second Intifada. Prime Minister Netanyahu banned such visits for three years, finally lifting it in July 2018. MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint Arab List) violated this ban at least once.
Arab violence on the Temple Mount led to Jews being prohibited from visiting their holiest site for more than 20 days. This prohibited Jews from visiting the site on both Jerusalem Day (May 10) and the Biblical feast of Shavuot (May 16).
Last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas demanded as one of the conditions of any ceasefire with Israel that Jews be banned from the Temple Mount.
Last month, freshmen Israeli Knesset member Simcha Rothman visited the Temple Mount.