In an apparent reaction to statements by Ra’am party head Mansour Abbas, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett declared Sunday that Israel will make its own judgments over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount without outside meddling.
“All decisions concerning the Temple Mount and Jerusalem will be taken only by the Israeli government, which has sovereignty over the city,” Bennett declared at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.
“We categorically reject any foreign influence in Israeli government decisions,” Bennett stated.
“Of course, the State of Israel will continue to treat adherents of all religions in Jerusalem with respect,” Bennett added. “Only one state — the State of Israel – has a capital in a united Jerusalem.”
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Abbas, whose party has been out of the coalition for three weeks due to tensions around the holy site, said that his party’s future role in the administration will be determined by talks between Israeli and Jordanian authorities.
“In relation to the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, Ra’am’s position in the coalition will be depending on the results of the joint Israeli-Jordanian-international meetings,” Abbas said.
This clear and definitive attitude has been communicated to the coalition’s leadership, including Prime Minister [Bennett] and Alternate Prime Minister [Yair Lapid].” Abbas continued.
Ra’am had pushed for the new joint Israel-Jordan committee to tackle burning concerns on the Temple Mount, according to an Islamic Movement official who spoke to The media expanding the Waqf’s authority.
According to the official, Ra’am devised the committee in cooperation with Jordan’s monarch during Abbas’ recent travels to Amman.
Hussein al-Sheikh, a top Palestinian Authority official, called Bennett’s comments on the Temple Mount “a breach of international law.”
“This disregards the historical status quo and infringes on Jordanian Hashemite custodianship of the holy sites in East Jerusalem,” said al-Sheikh, a senior adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
For Jews, the Old City compound is the holiest location, while for Muslims, the Al-Aqsa Mosque atop the Temple Mount is the third holiest shrine.
Jordan is in charge of the flashpoint location since it owns the Waqf Islamic endowment that manages it.
Tensions on the holy site have erupted in violent skirmishes, increased pressure from Israel’s allies, and threats from Hamas militants in recent weeks, escalating the continuing coalition crisis.
Following violence between Palestinians and police on the Temple Mount, Ra’am declared last month that it would temporarily freeze its membership in both the Knesset and the coalition.
Because the Knesset was in recess at the time, the decision was considered as primarily declarative. The parliament, on the other hand, is expected to begin its summer session on Monday, with the freeze in place.
Bennett also discussed the arrest of two Palestinian individuals suspected of conducting out the deadly terror attack in Elad last week at the weekly meeting.
Bennett stated, “We said we’d get the terrorists, and we did.” The prime minister expressed gratitude to security officers and condolences to the families of the three men slain in the axe and knife attack.
According to the Ynet news site, one of the two terrorists left a will stating that the attack was carried out “for the harm done to the Temple Mount.”
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar warned severe retaliation if Israelis continued to visit the Temple Mount in a speech last week.
Jews can visit but not worship under the current status quo. However, security forces appear to have turned a blind eye to several occurrences of Jews saying prayers at the property in recent years.
Over the last few weeks, Palestinians and Israeli soldiers have battled several times on the Temple Mount. The violence was similar to riots at the site last year, which helped precipitate an 11-day conflict between Israel and Gaza-based terror groups led by Hamas in May.