Temple Mount status quo to remain unchanged, public security chief says

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said on Sunday that the current status quo on the Temple Mount will not change and “will remain in place”.

Barlev’s statement comes after months of media reports of Jewish worshipers praying openly at the site, with police turning a blind eye despite a deal made with the Muslim foundation, the Waqf, which operates the site. The deal was made shortly after the Six Day War of 1967, when Israel captured Jordan’s holy site.

“The police have made every effort to protect the status quo – barring exceptional circumstances – which they quickly identified and acted against,” Barlev said.

The Temple Mount, known to Muslims for its Al-Aqsa Mosque, is the holiest site for Jews and the site of Islam’s third holiest shrine.

Right-wing groups have worked to allow Jews to pray openly at the holy site, on which some religious Jews claim that a third Jewish temple is to be erected.

Jews can visit the site in small groups, protected by police to avoid clashes with Muslim worshipers.

The fragile arrangement has prevailed at the Temple Mount: only Muslims are allowed to worship on the Holy Hill, while Jews pray at the Western Wall, considered a remnant of the Second Temple.

Recent clashes at the site were a catalyst for the start of the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in May.

Earlier in October, a Jerusalem magistrate’s court ruled to lift the ban on Jews praying on the Temple Mount, a move that drew immediate condemnation from the Palestinian Authority and warnings from the terrorist group Hamas to power in Gaza that they would renew their violent opposition if the decision was not reversed.

A Jerusalem district court accepted the government’s motion to overturn the lower court’s decision and upheld the status quo.

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