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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Saturday, May 27, 2017

Media outlets around the world launch probes of Israeli government in aftermath of publication of Temple Mount reportSince the Jewish Voice publication of a previously classified Israeli government report detailing the concerted efforts to bequeath total autonomy of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to the Muslim Waqf, reaction by online news sources as well as print publications have been steadily flowing in.

Published in both Hebrew and English on the Jewish Voice web site at the end of December, the shocking report has raised more than a few eyebrows in the infinite arena of global media outlets as well as eliciting responses and analyses of experts in the field and those most acquainted with the protracted dilemma of Jews being denied access to their holiest site.

Originally produced in 2008 by Israel's state comptroller, the report took a highly critical position of the government's willingness to relinquish control of the Temple Mount, despite the fact that the Jerusalem municipality, the police and the Israel Antiquities Authority had legal jurisdiction over the area. The report offered nuanced details of the efforts of the Waqf to intentionally destroy any manifestations of the religious and historical connection between the Jewish people and the site of their former Temples. As an all inclusive report, it also offered verifiable facts of the campaign being waged by the Waqf to prevent Jews from praying there under any circumstances.

Amongst the litany of revelations that the report includes is that from the years 2008 to 2010 when the reins of power in the Israeli government were transitioned from former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Benjamin Netanyahu, the government of Israel compelled the comptroller to redact two thirds of the report. Asserting "national security" and “foreign policy" concerns, the Netanyahu government persuaded a Knesset subcommittee to "hush up" the contents of the report, and thus it was officially buried.

Because the report focuses on the controversial conduct of the Israeli authorities regarding what occurred during archaeological digs at the Temple Mount in 2007, the gag order on the report remained firmly enforced.

The content of the report has sparked the interest of such internationally renowned media outlets as Ha'Aretz newspaper of Israel who said in their story on the report of December 27th that, “news of the Jewish Voice report was first published in the Israeli weekend newspaper Sof Hashavua.” Concerning the polemical contents of the Temple Mount report, Ha’Aretz stated that, “Various bodies, including the Public Committee Against the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount, claimed that the authorities were negligent when it came to preserving the antiquities and overseeing the construction carried out by the Waqf.” They added that, “The report includes damning conclusions regarding government authorities such as the Jerusalem Municipality, Israel Police, the Israel Antiquities Authority, and the government's legal adviser.”

Ha’Aretz also noted that Shmuel Berkovitch, an expert on Jerusalem's holy places, was one of the people who contributed to the report. “Berkovich reported to the State Comptroller on a long line of failures of supervision and the enforcement of Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Among the failures that were pointed out was that the special ministerial committee that needs to approve any construction work on the Temple Mount never met. Another failure was that the government's legal adviser never ordered to prosecute any of the Waqf officials or any other bodies responsible for construction violations and harming antiquities.”

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Jewish Voice said that the comptroller report “reveals the terrifying truth about the Israeli conspiracy to relinquish control of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to hands of the Muslim Wakf.”

“The report, mostly covering activities on the Mount 2001-2007, and as indicated by the Jewish Voice, does criticize the Jerusalem Municipality, the police, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the state prosecution for negligence relating to law enforcement toward Wakf activities,” stated the December 30th Jerusalem Post report.

After conducting their own government inquiries, the Jerusalem Post reported that, “a spokesman for the state comptroller refused to comment on the contents of the report citing that it was still classified.”

Israeli government silence on the controversial nature of the report still prevails despite its publication. The Jerusalem Post story said that, “while one media outlet reported that a debate was held in the past year in a subcommittee of the Knesset State Control Committee about whether to reconsider declassifying the report despite the decision to classify it in 2010, a spokesman for the committee denied that any such debate had taken place.”

The State Comptroller’s office, however, did express its anger at the publication of the report. According to the Jerusalem Post article, “the comptroller published a letter complaining about the publicizing of the report on the (Jewish Voice) site and referring the issue to the attorney- general.”

The Jerusalem Post added that the summary of the report on the Jewish Voice web site says that, “the attorney-general (referring to Menachem Mazuz who held the office in 2007 and his predecessors) was criticized for hampering law enforcement by setting a procedure by which no law enforcement actions would be taken to stop violations without his explicit authorization.”

Further government probing was done by Josh Hasten of the Jewish News Service in an article that appeared on January 6th. JNS conducted an interview with attorney Aviad Visoly, chairman of the Joint Staff Movement of the Jewish Temple Mount Organizations, an umbrella for 27 bodies that advocate for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount. The article says that Visoly “has sent a letter to the state comptroller requesting an immediate removal of the gag order so that Members of Knesset can discuss its findings.”

According to the JNS article, Visoly is “optimistic that as a result of the report, along with a “tremendous rise” in the willingness of Jews to visit the Temple Mount as “we are on the verge of a revolution of a state of affairs in which for the first time in 2,000 years, Jews will be able to pray freely on the Temple Mount.” Visoly told JNS “that currently around 100,000 non-Muslims visit the site per year, with approximately a third of them being Jewish.” The article also raises concerns of “Halacha” or Jewish law and how it pertains to Jews visiting the Temple Mount. “Israel’s Chief Rabbinate opposes visits by Jews to the Temple Mount due to the concern that they may inadvertently step into an area that, according to halacha, is forbidden to enter unless one is ritually pure,” says the JNS article.

Yitzchak Reuven, the assistant-director of the International Department at The Temple Institute, an educational, not-for-profit organization which focuses on the universal significance of the Holy Temple as a house of peace and prayer for all nations told JNS that he expresses grave concern “in regard to extensive construction work currently being carried out by the Waqf “without supervision or authorization.” He says that the police “never say no the Muslim Waqf [for carrying out their projects], but always give them the green light.” Regarding the 1994 peace agreement between Israel and Jordan, which was supposed to ensure freedom of worship for all monotheistic faiths on the Temple Mount, Reuven says that “Jordan and [the Jordanian] Waqf have essentially reneged on the agreement, but nobody says anything about it.”

Other media outlets that have carried news stories relating to the publication of the classified Temple Mount report by the Jewish Voice include Ha’Aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Israel National News (Arutz Sheva), Algemeiner Journal, The Temple Mount Institute web site, the Jews News web site, the 5 Towns Jewish Times, the Israel and Stuff web site, the Real Clear Religion web site, and the End Time Ministries web site, among others.

For further information on the unabridged version of the Temple Mount report, please visit the Jewish Voice web site at: www.jewishvoiceny.com