In an attempt to downplay the controversy caused by Israeli Prime Minister Bennett’s initial support for Jewish worship on Temple Mount (which was later modified under international pressure to allowing Jewish visits to the site), Foreign Minister Yair Lapid related to the matter both in an internal party meeting and in a press statement.
In a shocking display of ignorance, Lapid said that “there is no change on Temple Mount. Jews have freedom to visit Temple Mount and Muslims have freedom of worship there. If Jews wish to pray, the holiest place for Jews is a few meters from there – the Western Wall.”
At a press conference Lapid reiterated that “there is no change in the status quo, Muslims have freedom of worship. Jews can pray at the Western Wall. The Foreign Ministry contacted Jordan and I spoke with the Public Security Minister to ensure that there are no changes in security agreements.”
Mr. Lapid, in a week when the Jewish nation marks annually the mourning over the destruction of the Temples, your statements are not just revealing examples of your ignorance, they are downright insensitive.
The reason that Jews have prayed for thousands of years at the Western Wall is that this is the closest they could get to Temple Mount and the site of the Holy of Holies. The Western Wall is not part of the temple itself but merely a supporting wall for Temple Mount. No Jew ever thought that this would serve forever as a replacement for the Temple and no Jew ends his prayers without a fervent request that “the Temple be built speedily in our time..and there we will serve You in awe as in previous times and earlier years.”
Freedom of worship on Temple Mount for Jews is exactly what we are praying for for thousands of years! How then can senior government officials so flippantly dismiss these national aspirations? Leaving aside the halachic dispute about ascending to Temple Mount, it is inconceivable that an Israeli government, even one buttressed by 4 Arab MKs, should cave in so meekly on what should be an inalienable right for every person in a democratic state- the freedom to pray.
If Bennett and Lapid are so concerned about international pressure or about Arab threats of violence, they should not have established a government with Arab MKs, leaving themselves vulnerable to every possible blackmail tactic. If they have any real respect for the historical significance of the Jewish nation, they must at least pay lip service to the perpetual longings for a Temple and state that Jews should not enter or approach mosques but should be permitted to recite prayers at the place where their ancestors worshiped far before the Al-Aqsa mosque was erected.