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Israelis have every right to visit the Temple Mount – but Ben Gvir’s timing is terrible

Good grief – there was no reason for Israel’s new national security minister to pick a needless international fight in the government’s first week

Israeli security forces escort a group of religious Jews as they visit the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al Sharif, in Jerusalem's Old City, March 31, 2022. Photo by Jamal Awad/Flash90

JERUSALEM—Let me be crystal clear: Every law-abiding Israeli citizen has the absolute right to visit the Temple Mount.

So does every Jew and Christian and people of no faith from around the world, just as Muslims have that right.

The Temple Mount is not sacred to Muslims only.

It is sacred to all of us.

It is the very site where the First Jewish Temple stood, planned by David, the great Israelite king, and built by his son, King Solomon.

It is the very site where the Second Jewish Temple was built.

It’s the site where the Lord Jesus Christ walked, preached and overturned the tables of the corrupt money-changers in the Temple.

The Romans destroyed that Temple and burned the City of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. because they hated Jews. Indeed, they went on to murder one million Jews to prevent us from sovereignty over our very own country, the land and city that God gave to the Jewish people, beginning with the Abrahamic Covenant.

So, the international outcry that is erupting is an outrage.

Christians all over the world should stand with the right of Israelis to exercise their religious freedom to visit the Temple Mount, and to exercise our sovereignty over the site.

Yes, Israel has a peace treaty with Jordan that gives the Hashemite Kingdom a special role in maintaining the Muslim sites on the mount.

And Israel takes that treaty very seriously, and protects the right – and the freedom of access – to all law-abiding Muslims who want to visit the Dome of the Rock and pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque.

But again, let’s be clear: Nothing in that agreement prevents Jews and Christians from visiting there.

Nothing in that agreement prevents Israeli citizens or officials from visiting there.

For the world to condemn Israel for exercising our rights is offensive and out of bounds.

Nevertheless, Israel is being attacked from all quarters because an Israeli Jew took a walk on the Temple Mount.

As ALL ISRAEL NEWS reported yesterday, the United States immediately condemned the visit – which lasted less than 15 minutes – by Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel’s new national security minister, already a highly-controversial figure in his own right.

“Ambassador (Tom) Nides has been very clear in conversations with the Israeli government on the issue of preserving the status quo in Jerusalem’s holy sites,” the U.S. Embassy said in a statement. “Actions that prevent that are unacceptable.”

Various Arab states condemned the visit.

The UAE characterized Ben Gvir’s visit as “the storming of Al Aqsa Mosque courtyard by an Israeli minister under the protection of Israeli forces.”

Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry also condemned the move as a “provocative action by an Israeli official who stormed the Al Aqsa mosque compound.”

Jordan spoke out, too.

Now, not surprisingly, the United Nations is getting into the act, as well.

With all due respect, such a brouhaha only rewards and fuels radical Islamist extremists like Hamas and others who want to prevent all Jews and Christians from ever visiting the Temple Mount.

That said, I don’t agree with Ben Gvir’s timing.

What’s the point of picking an international and regional fight in the very first week of Israel’s new government?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu reportedly had to postpone his first-ever state visit to the United Arab Emirates – apparently to happen next week – because of the dust up.

It’s the fifth time Bibi has postponed a visit to the UAE – four during his last tenure as prime minister, and now this.

Not good.

I’m very concerned about the history, beliefs, statements and highly provocative actions of Ben Gvir over the years.

But, I unequivocally support his right to visit the Temple Mount.

His love for Jewish history is admirable.

His sense of timing, however, leaves much to be desired.

Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.

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