Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid warned on Monday against a proposed visit to the Temple Mount by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, saying that it would lead to bloodshed.
“Ben-Gvir must not go up to Temple Mount. It is a deliberate provocation that will put lives in danger and cost lives,” said Lapid.
“As weak as [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is, he must, at least this time, stand up and tell him, ‘You are not going to the Temple Mount.’ People will die,” he added.
The opposition head suggested that only regular lawmakers and not ministers could ascend the Mount, saying that otherwise it would “be viewed by the whole world as breaking the status quo, even if it’s not.”
High-ranking members of the Israel Police, including Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai, were set to discuss on Monday a request by Ben-Gvir to visit Judaism’s holiest site.
Ben-Gvir, who as national security minister is in charge of the police force, had previously informed authorities of his intent to visit the Mount on Tuesday or Wednesday. That the development was leaked could indicate a desire on the part of police to torpedo the move over fears of Muslim violence.
A longtime advocate for Jews being allowed to freely visit and pray at their holiest site, Ben-Gvir vowed on the campaign trail to change the status quo preventing them from doing both.
Currently, Jews can only visit the Mount during short windows of time, and are prohibited from worshiping so as to not upset Muslims, who regularly riot there.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II last week said he was ready for a conflict should Israel’s new government violate “red lines” by changing the status quo governing relations at Jerusalem’s holy sites.
Abdullah’s family, the Hashemites, has long been the “custodian” of Muslim and Christian holy sites in the Israeli capital, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque that sits atop the Temple Mount.
A spokesman for Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said last week that the Israeli government’s policy agenda constituted a “dangerous escalation.” Nabil Abu Rudeineh issued a veiled warning that there would be ongoing violence unless a Palestinian state was created, according to the official Palestinian Wafa news agency.