Internal Security Minister Omer Barlev believes that the ascent of Knesset members to the Temple Mount during the month of Ramadan––which coincides with April 2 this year––is sure to produce a flare-up that must be prevented. And so, last Thursday, Barlev sent down a directive to Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai decreeing that any MK who wants to visit the holy site during Ramadan must request the police district commander’s approval as well as the commissioner’s approval.
But on Monday, Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara sent Barlev a scathing and poignant letter, which News12 revealed Tuesday night, making clear there was no security justification for his draconian move, at least not according to the security services.
The AG wrote: “I would like to comment that the decision to prevent MKs from entering the Temple Mount should be made after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense who are in charge of state security, as well as after consultation with the General Security Service (Shin Bet). Restricting an MK’s access to any place other than a private domain is possible only when there is a reasonable basis to expect harm to state security or for the purpose of preventing the disclosure of a military secret. The criteria you specified deviate from the criteria outlined in the relevant section of the law.”
Barlev’s office responded: “The reports that the minister sought to prevent MKs in advance from ascending the Temple Mount are a biased leak that distorts the minister’s will. In his letter to the AG, the minister did not wish to restrict the ascent of MKs to the Temple Mount in advance, but only to restrict it if there is a disturbance at that moment, to protect the lives of MKs.”
The above makes no sense: if an MK is required to request a permit to ascend the Temple Mount from the district commander and the police commissioner, how can they tell in advance if there’s a disturbance at the moment?
Barlev’s people continued: “The things quoted are the first part of the AG’s response (preventing assent), which the Minister did not ask for. There is no doubt that the freedom of movement of a Knesset member is absolute all year round and throughout the country, including on the Temple Mount. The question remains, in a situation where an unforeseen danger to the safety and life of the Knesset member develops, is it the duty of the police to act to prevent the danger to his life?”
Yes, it is, I’m so glad they brought it up. But acting to protect an MK does not mean banning them from entering – it means sending cops to push back the rioting crowds using whatever means necessary. Do your job.
Otzma Yehudit Chairman MK Itamar Ben Gvir responded: “Minister Barlev is a cowardly minister who has given in to terrorism, but more than that he is acting without authority like the worst dictator and has to go home. I will ascend the Temple Mount as I always do and hope that the gatekeepers will continue to make it clear to Barlev that Israel is not a dictatorship and the Minister of Internal Security, even if he does not like the ascent of MKs to the Temple Mount, cannot prevent it.”
Ben Gvir recently won an appeal to the High Court of Justice against an attempt by Minister Barlev and the Police to ban him from maintaining a parliamentary office in the neighborhood of Shimon HaTzadik (Sheikh Jarrah).
Advantage Ben Gvir.