Temple Mount restrictions shock former Canadian minister on Harper trip
Former Canadian minister Stockwell Day, who visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Sunday, said he was shocked to learn that Israeli police forces prevent Jews from visiting the holy site.
Since Israel captured eastern Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War, the Israeli government policy on the Temple Mount has been to cede religious control of the site to the Muslim Waqf, and Israeli police restrict Jewish access there. While that Israeli government policy stems from security concerns, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate also opposes Jewish visitation to the Temple Mount, for halachic reasons.
Day, who served as federal minister of public safety between 2006 and 2008 and is currently in Israel as part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's delegation to the country, "was shocked over how Jewish police can do these things to Jews" and "did not understand how one can talk about the reunification of Jerusalem while at the same time Jews are not allowed to open their mouths on the Temple Mount," Jerusalem resident Josef Rabin, who accompanied Day on his visit to the Temple Mount, told Israel National News.
Rabin and Day also noticed that the Israeli police is now forbidding Israelis to speak with tourists about the compound out of fear of angering the Muslim Waqf.
Day is expected to raise the Temple Mount issue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an upcoming meeting.
In another development on Harper's visit to Israel, Harper and Netanyahu on Tuesday signed an expanded Israel-Canada free trade pact.
"An expanded and modernized trade agreement with Israel will generate more jobs and economic growth at home and in Israel, while strengthening the close friendship that both countries enjoy," Harper said in a statement.
Harper “really understands the importance and moral justification for a Jewish state, he gets it,” Rabbi Philip Scheim of Toronto’s Beth David Synagogue, who traveled to Israel as part of Harper’s delegation, told JNS.org.