Last updated: 27 March, 2013

Israeli police bar rightist MP from Jerusalem holy site

Israeli police said Wednesday they had stopped a far-right MP from entering a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem fearing a violent response from Muslims at the site.

Moshe “Feiglin wanted to visit the Temple Mount this morning, police prevented him to make sure there would be no public disorder,” spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.

“We knew that if he went up there there would be problems in terms of public order,” he added.

Feiglin, a hardline settler who leads an extreme nationalist faction within the Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, won a parliamentary seat in the January general election.

He was arrested in October for disturbing the peace at the compound, known as the Haram al-Sharif by Muslims. It is the third holiest site in Islam and revered as Judaism’s most sacred place.

Wednesday’s incident occurred during the week-long Passover holiday when Jews commemorate the Exodus of the biblical Israelites from captivity in Egypt.

Rosenfeld said that on Tuesday, police had arrested a Jewish “right-wing activist” who sought to take a goat to the mount to re-enact the Passover sacrifice as performed in biblical times.

Israeli media named one of the group as Noam Federman, a well-known religious nationalist and West Bank settler who has made the attempt before.

Rosenfeld said that the man, and goat, were stopped well before they reached the walled Old City where the mount is situated.

“His intentions were to take that goat to the Temple Mount,’ he said.

The compound houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques, and is venerated by Jews as the site where King Herod’s temple once stood before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

It is one of the most sensitive sites in Jerusalem, and clashes frequently break out between Palestinians and Israeli security forces at the compound.