Police chief renews Temple Mount ban for MKs

Israel Police Chief Roni Alsheich on Sunday announced a renewed open-ended ban on Israeli lawmakers visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The directive was issued in a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which Alsheich wrote: “In light of attempts by many extremist elements from both sides to create provocations… I surmise that at this time, ascent to the Temple Mount by Knesset members is likely to result in an exacerbation of tensions and an escalation of incidents that would cause a real endangerment of the security of the state.

“I have decided to continue the ban on members of Knesset going up to the Temple Mount until further notice. The issue will be considered anew once the [holiday season is] over,” Alsheich added in the letter, according to a Channel 2 report.

Netanyahu warned on Thursday that “extremist elements” were attempting to sow unrest in Jerusalem and other areas in efforts to renew violence between Israelis and Arabs ahead of the Passover holiday, which starts this weekend.

The prime minister said security forces would increase their readiness to counter those attempts amid a wave of Arab terrorist attacks that began more than six months ago and has lately been ebbing.

“There are, at present, attempts to rekindle the unrest and the violence, especially over Passover and the Temple Mount, as we previously experienced during the holidays last autumn,” Netanyahu said during a speech in Tel Aviv to the union of local authorities.

“On the eve of the Passover holiday, all kinds of extremist elements are promoting lies about our policies on the Temple Mount with the aim of causing riots and fueling tensions. We are working against these inciters and against these inciting elements, and we will increase our forces in places of friction and also take defensive measures. We are also sending messages to Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and the entire Arab world,” he said.