(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Jamal Zahalka

The Israeli political Arab bloc is backing Member of Knesset Jamal Zahalka, who was summoned for questioning after abusing Jewish visitors and security officers on the Temple Mount.

The Joint Arab List is standing behind Jamal Zahalka, an Arab Member of Knesset (MK) who on Tuesday hurled abuse on Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, which was caught on film. Zahalka, the Balad party chairman, visited the site – Judaism’s holiest – on Tuesday in support of Muslim rioters who have stepped up their violence against Jews for the High Holiday season.

“Why are you letting them in? It’s a disgrace, only to hurt Muslims’ feelings. This is not yours, get out of here, go home, you’re not wanted,” Zahalka was seen yelling at a police officer sent to protect visitors to the Temple Mount.

The next day, police summoned Zahalka for questioning, reportedly scheduled for Sunday.

temple mount violence

Palestinian violence against Jews and police at the Temple Mount continued on Wednesday. (Flash90)

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev demanded that Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh expel Zahalka from the party. MK Avigdor Liberman, former foreign minister, said Zahalka should be put on trial for “assaulting Jews and police.”

“Al-Aqsa [mosque] is in occupied territory, and resisting this occupation is both a right and moral obligation,” Zahalka stated. “Defending its sanctity is also a right and moral obligation.”

Joint List head Ayman Odeh defended Zahalka’s comments. “The al-Aqsa Mosque belongs to the Muslims, and the only way to defend it is to continue our struggle for the end of the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the 1967 lines whose capital is East Jerusalem,” he said.

MK Ayman Odeh

Joint Arab List leader Ayman Odeh said the Temple Mount is for Muslims only. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli government policy is to allow visitors of all religions to visit the Temple Mount. The site, however, is under the authority of the Jordanian Waqf (Muslim Trust), according to which only Muslims are permitted to pray there, in violation of a ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court. Despite these restrictions on non-Muslim visitors, Islamic organizations dedicated to ending their presence at the site have organized riots, building barricades and stockpiling rocks and firebombs, targeting non-Muslims and police officers.

By: Sara Abramowicz, United with Israel