Zahalka defies Temple Mount ban for MKs: ‘Benjamin Netanyahu has no authority here’

MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint List) challenged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ban of all MKs visiting the Temple Mount, and police blocked him from entering the plaza Thursday.


Arguing with police officers, Zahalka said “Who is Netanyahu in this context? There is no rule that says the prime minister can bar MKs from entering a holy place.”


The law granting lawmakers immunity states that “no instruction banning or limiting access to any place in the country, that is not private property, may apply to MKs, unless it is for reasons of state security or a military secret.”


Zahalka added that he is “protecting the mosque from crazy people” and said that “the prime minister cannot just order to violate people’s freedom of movement.”


The MK also said he is considering petitioning the High Court against Netanyahu’s decision.


Zahalka, who professes to be secular, said that Muslims’ “right to enter al-Aksa is natural and obvious. We are here to protect its holiness. Ministers and MKs from the Right come here, with police protection, to harm al-Aksa’s holiness.”


Last week, Zahalka accosted Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, who were following police instructions prohibiting prayer and prayer-like activity, and clashed with police at the holy site.


Netanyahu’s instruction sparked anger among right-wing and Arab lawmakers on Thursday.


Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh said that the prime minister is spineless.


“The Al-Aksa plaza is occupied territory that, according to the status quo, is managed by the King of Jordan and the Muslim Wakf, and Netanyahu has no legal or moral authority to ban Arab MKs from going to the mosque,” he said. “Netanyahu continues to be dragged after the settlers’ leadership in the coalition and is deteriorating all of us into the abyss.”


According to Odeh, whoever is concerned about security should not be “managing the conflict” and must work on negotiations towards a peace settlement that would “end the occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state.”


Read More: Zahalka defies Temple Mount ban for MKs: ‘Benjamin Netanyahu has no authority here’ – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post