Arab Members of Knesset (MKs) from the Joint Arab List sent a letter to the heads of government on Wednesday declaring their intention to violate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ban preventing MKs from visiting the Temple Mount.
Joint List MK Masud Gnaim wrote the letter of defiance, addressed to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and police commissioner Roni Alsheikh, representing himself and fellow Arab MKs Abdel-Hakim Haj Yahya and Taleb Abu Arar.
“On behalf of Knesset members from the Islamic Movement (Ra’am), we announce our intention to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the month of Ramadan and pray there,” the letter stated.
“Fulfilling this religious commandment is a basic right and part of our lifestyle as Muslims and religious people.”
On Thursday, MK Yehudah Glick (Likud) said he would file a complaint against the Arab MKs with the Knesset Ethics Committee over their declaration that they intend to ignore the directive.
Last October, Netanyahu declared ban on Jewish Knesset members from visiting the Temple Mount as a measure intended to quiet the Islamic violence at the Jewish holy site. This move was technically complicated as the prime minister does not have this authority over MKs. In order to enact this ban, Netanyahu ordered police to physically prevent MKs from entering the Temple Mount compound.
Jewish members protested, saying the ban was discriminatory. Netanyahu responded by amending the ban to include all MKs. A few weeks after the ban was put into effect, Joint Arab List MK Basel Ghattas, a Christian Arab, ascended the mount with impunity.
Earlier this week, Yehudah Glick was reprimanded by Netanyahu for ascending to the Temple Mount before he was sworn in as the new Likud MK. Since he was still a citizen and not yet a member of Knesset, the band technically did not apply to him. Glick had coordinated the visit with Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan. Glick said that he intends to honor the ban now that he is a member of the Israeli parliament.
Last month, MK Jamal Zahalka of the Joint Arab List called for a continuation of the “intifada” to prevent Jews “at all costs” and “by any means” from visiting the Temple Mount.
“The third intifada was born due to these ascents [to the Temple Mount],” Zahalka said to the Palestinian Al-Watan news site. A video filmed in September showed Zahalka and MK Taleb Abu Arar near the Temple Mount yelling at Israeli police to leave the area while MK Ahmad Tibi is seen hitting a policeman. Hitting a policeman is a punishable crime, though no charges were made and no action was taken.