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Israeli lawmakers debate Temple Mount sovereignty

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Jews should be allowed to pray at the Temple Mount, Likud party members said at a volatile Knesset debate on the right of non-Muslims to pray at the holy site.

More than 30 Israeli lawmakers, from the right and left wings, asked to speak at the special session on Tuesday. Most of the Arab-Israeli lawmakers protested the debate by not attending the session.

“I call on the government to apply the full sovereignty of the State of Israel in the entire Temple Mount,” said the Likud’s Moshe Feiglin, who requested the debate. “I call on the Israeli government to allow free access to any Jew to the Temple Mount through any gate, and allow them to pray.”

Feiglin had made monthly visits to the Temple Mount before being prevented by police. He visited the Temple Mount earlier this week with a police escort, however.

Zahava Gal-on, head of the Meretz party, said that while she believes Jews have a right to pray on the Temple Mount, it must be done in consultation with the agreement of the Arab world, the Times of Israel reported. She called Feiglin’s proposal “a match that could ignite the powder keg on which the Middle East rests,” and said extending Jewish sovereignty over the Temple Mount would harm the peace process.

The site is overseen by the Muslim Wakf, the Muslim religious administration charged with managing the Temple Mount site, which is holy to Jews and Muslims. Jews generally are not permitted by the Wakf to pray or bring any ritual objects to the Temple Mount.

Earlier Tuesday, Palestinian youths rioted on the Temple Mount in response to the session, resulting in three arrests and injuries to two Israeli police officers.

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