While such news is unlikely to be peace-promoting in the current context in the Middle East, a growing number of religious Jews, primarily among religious Zionists, but also some Orthodox, feel that visits to the Temple Mount are permissible and that the Temple should be built on what has been for centuries a Muslim holy site, writes Andrew Friedman in Jerusalem Report (June 30).
Since the State of Israel gained control over the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967, the rule among religious Jews was that they should refrain to visit the site of the ancient temple. A few exceptions were the very small activist groups wanting to get the site under Jewish control and advocating visits to the sites, which were perceived by Muslims as provocations. But it is no longer a non-issue, the number of Jews visiting the Temple Mount has been increasing. However, prayers by non-Muslims remain forbidden on the site, as well as Israeli nationalist gestures (e.g. waving an Israeli flag). Some politicians advocate for changes, although the Israeli government has assured the current policy will stay in force.
On July 3, a government minister belonging to a nationalist religious party, Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel, broke a taboo among high-ranking government officials by calling “to build a real temple on the Temple Mount,” according to The Times of Israel (July 5). The newspaper reports that the issue of the Temple Mount has slowly emerged at the grassroots level, making what used to be a theoretical issue into a practical one, with some (religious) people starting to visit a site that was supposed to remain off-limits.
While the government is unlikely to change the status quo, supporters of the building of the Third Temple are convinced that it will come without waiting for the Messiah and that “he who controls the Temple Mount will ultimately control Jerusalem and ultimately control the land of Israel,” as a longtime Temple Mount activist explained to Friedman.
(Jerusalem Report, P.O. Box 1805, Jerusalem 91017, Israel, http://www.jpost.com/JerusalemReport/Home.aspx; The Times of Israel, http://www.timesofisrael.com.)