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War Cabinet revokes Ben Gvir’s authority over Temple Mount during Ramadan to prevent escalation – report

Police and War Cabinet to make decisions regarding Temple Mount instead of Israel's national security minister

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir arrives to a voting station in Tel Aviv, during the Municipal Elections, Feb. 27, 2024. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Israel’s War Cabinet decided to revoke the authority of National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir to limit the entry to the Temple Mount during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to prevent an escalation of tensions, Israel’s Channel 12 news reported Wednesday evening.

The national security minister reacted with outrage to the reports and demanded that the prime minister deny them in a post on 𝕏.

He also accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of deciding to “follow Benny Gantz’s conception according to which peace is bought by folding and surrendering to terrorism.”

The decision was made amid growing concerns by security officials that Ben Gvir could inflame tensions in East Jerusalem and the West Bank either by imposing strict limits on access to the Al Aqsa Mosque or by making inflammatory statements.

The national security minister had demanded that Israel deny entry to the Temple Mount to all West Bank Muslims and only allow Arab-Israeli Muslims above age 70 to visit the holy site during Ramadan, which begins on March 10.

Instead, Ben Gvir will not be part of the ongoing discussions regarding the issue and, instead, the War Cabinet will make all related decisions. No sweeping restrictions will be imposed on Muslim Israeli citizens.

The security policy in East Jerusalem is traditionally carried out by the Israel Police, which is under the political authority of the National Security Ministry.

Channel 12 reported that Ministers Gantz, Eisenkot, and Defense Minister Gallant pressured Netanyahu to revoke Ben Gvir’s authority on the matter to prevent “foreign and political considerations.”

The controversial decision came on Tuesday, following Gallant's warning that Israel was entering a dangerous phase and must exercise the utmost caution during Ramadan.

“In wartime, everyone says what they want - including people who are supposed to be responsible but aren’t,” Gallant said in a transparent jab at Ben Gvir.

In addition, police officials warned that Ben Gvir’s demands could cause a flare-up of violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank, according to an earlier Channel 12 report.

Access to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem will be limited by quotas according to space capacity and safety considerations.

As was done in the past, individual restrictions will be imposed according to intelligence warnings by the local police and the Shin Bet domestic intelligence.

Israel expects that roughly 50- to 60,000 Muslims will be allowed to pray at the mosque, according to Channel 12.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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