Two years after ordering lawmakers to keep away from the Temple Mount because of the volatile nature of the political situation at the holy site, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has retracted the order and allowed Knesset members and cabinet ministers to visit the site if they wish, Hadashot evening news reported on Tuesday.
Netanyahu reportedly sent a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein announcing that lawmakers who wish to visit the site would be allowed to do so once every three months.
The prime minister issued the initial directive in October 2015 after the country was engulfed by a wave of lone-wolf terrorism, which caused tensions at the always-fraught holy site to flare up. In October 2016, the Israel Police issued a recommendation that MKs be allowed on the mount, and in January 2017, the Knesset Ethics Committee removed the ban on such visits to the site, but kept certain restrictions about the frequency and timing of the visits in place.
The Joint Arab List objected to the decision.
“Netanyahu will not tell Muslims, MKs or anyone else when to enter [the Temple Mount compound] and when to pray. Anyone who is not a Muslim has no reason to be there,” MK Hanin Zoabi said on Tuesday.
“Netanyahu wants to fan the flames so he can avoid the criminal investigations [against him] and the threat to the coalition,” said Zoabi. “Leave the mosques alone.”