JERUSALEM (Mar. 21)
The Supreme Court today reconfirmed that the government is justified by law in barring Jews from praying on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, site of the El-Aksa Mosque. The decision by a three-man bench came on the eve of the Security Council debate on the West Bank, called by the Moslem states following weeks of rioting on the West Bank against an earlier, contrary, court decision by a Jerusalem magistrate.
Today’s decision was not handed down in the same case as the magistrate’s ruling of Jan. 14. The latter has been appealed by the state to the District Court where it will be heard shortly. The Supreme Court decision referred to an application by a Danish tourist who was stopped by police from praying on the Temple Mount on Feb. 14. The court issued a temporary order Feb. 22 and the three-man bench heard the case today.
Attorney General Aharon Barak angrily rejected any suggestions today that the legal process had in any way been speeded up to get a verdict before the Security Council debate. Barak said the natural course of judicial procedure had been followed throughout.
Meanwhile, Rabbi Moshe Levinger was ordered by the Military Government to stay away from Machpela, the Patriarch’s Tomb in Hebron, until further notice. Levinger had last week exhorted the residents of Kiryat Arba, all of whom are licensed to carry weapons, to “shoot to kill” if they were menaced by Arabs. Barak said Levinger could be persecuted if it was determined that his remarks constituted an incitement to violence. The Machpela Cave is a holy place to Moslems and Orthodox Jews. Both are permitted to pray there but at different times to avoid clashes.