By Michael Bachner/TPS
Jerusalem (TPS) – The Palestinian Authority minister of religious affairs warned on Sunday that rabbis had permitted Jewish women to breastfeed in the “Al-Aqsa Mosque” in Jerusalem, known better as the Temple Mount, Palestinian Authority media sources reported.
Palestinian Authority Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs Youssef Ideiss issued his warning at the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs Conference held in the southern Egyptian city of Aswan over the weekend.
The statement was met with a response on Monday evening by Ofir Gendelman, the Israeli prime minister’s spokesman to the Arab media. “PA Minister of Religious Affairs lies, says that Rabbis allow Jewish women to breastfeed on the Temple Mount,” he wrote on his Twitter account. “It’s a clear incitement to violence.”
Ideiss was apparently referencing an obscure recent ruling issued not by “rabbis” but by a single “rabbanit”. Rabbanit Idit Bartov, one of the first Israeli women ever ordained for the Orthodox rabbinate, permitted breastfeeding on the Temple Mount in a post on the Facebook page of a group called “Women for the Temple,” dated May 3.
“I am visiting [the Temple Mount] with my nursing baby. Is it permitted to breastfeed on the Temple Mount (of course with a nursing cover so that it will be totally hidden and modest)?” Bartov was asked.
“There is no prohibition of breastfeeding on the Temple Mount when you are covered,” she replied. “It’s a modest, natural act that doesn’t violate the sanctity of the site,” Bartov explained, though a disclaimer at the bottom says that the ruling was “general” and “one should consult privately for specific cases.”
In February, Ideiss criticized an Israeli plan to build an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall to be used by non-Orthodox Jews, claiming that the plan will “Judaize the holy site.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on television in September that the Temple Mount and other Jerusalem holy sites belong to the “Palestinians” and Jews “have no right to defile them with their filthy feet.”
Under the current status quo, Israeli Jews may visit sections of the Temple Mount in small groups but are forbidden from praying or worshipping on the site. Police regulations do not specify whether women may breastfeed on the Temple Mount.