MK Yehudah Glick (Likud) petitioned the High Court of Justice on Tuesday to lift an 18-month-old ban precluding Israeli lawmakers from visiting the Temple Mount, ahead of the Jewish holiday of Passover.
The petition asked the court to issue a decree nisi (conditional court order) instructing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to refrain from giving the police “any operational orders in general and any relating to the Temple Mount in particular that would restrict freedom of movement or worship there.”
In addition, Glick asked the court to order police not to accept operational orders from the prime minister or the public security minister that would prevent Knesset members from visiting the Temple Mount or that would discriminate against MKs regarding freedom of movement and worship at the site.
Glick’s petition states that it was submitted “to do away with the… unprecedented phenomenon in which members of the Knesset have been barred from the Temple Mount for more than a year while every other citizen, resident, or tourist has been able to visit the holy site without any disturbance or problem.”
The security establishment reported a significant increase of about 40 percent in the number of Jews visiting the site recently. However, security officials also expressed serious concern about allowing politicians to visit the Temple Mount prior to the holiday of Passover, which begins on April 10.
Yesterday, Netanyahu announced he would consider removing the ban after a string of Jewish spring holidays, including Passover, Israel Independence Day, and Jerusalem Day, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the city. The ban will continue until after the Jewish holiday of Shavuot and the Muslim month of Ramadan, which runs this year from late May to late June, at which time a new assessment will take place then and should the security establishment permit it, the ban will be lifted.
Although Jews can visit the Temple Mount at proscribed times, Jewish prayer on the site is strictly prohibited for political and security reasons. In October, 2015, Netanyahu banned all Israeli politicians from visiting the site in order to reduce tensions with Jordan and to contain violence in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.