Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Israeli Court Avoids Decision on Definition of Prayer on Temple Mount

In Israel on Monday, a Jerusalem district court reversed the order of a Magistrate's Court that had barred right-wing Jewish activist Yehuda Etzion from visiting the Temple Mount compound for 15 days. Haaretz and a press release from Honenu report on developments.  Etzion is founder of Hai VeKayam, a group that advocates allowing Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount where Muslim holy sites are located. Agreements between Israel, the Palestinians and Jordan call for maintaining the "status quo" at the Temple Mount site-- which means no Jewish prayer there.  On Dec. 22, authorities detained Etzion for walking on the Temple Mount with his arms raised, concluding that this violated the status quo.  On appeal, District Court judge Ram Vinograd said he did not need to definitively rule on the definition of an act of prayer since there was not fair warning to Etzion that police had changed their past interpretations to now ban raised arms.  During an earlier visit, police had not stopped Etzion from similar action. The judge commented on the problem of line drawing-- would merely lifting one's eyes upwards, or covering one's head, be enough to violate the prayer ban.

Etzion, obviously pushing the envelope, after the appeals court ruling described his action on the Temple Mount as follows:
With this act I sought to express a connection with the Temple Mount and the One who resides there, and I kept in my memory also the prayer of King Solomon, who spread his palms upwards.