JERUSALEM (VINnews) — In a plainly political attempt to lower international pressure over the Jerusalem Magistrates Court decision to authorize Jewish prayer on Temple Mount, the Jerusalem District Court overturned the lower court’s ruling Wednesday. The court ruled against the four Jewish teens who prayed on the Temple Mount, bowing down and saying the Shema Yisrael prayer.
The teens had been banned by police from the Old City for 15 days for their actions and had appealed their ban, arguing that they had read media reports in which Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai guaranteed all three religions freedom of worship in Jerusalem. The lower court accepted the teens claims, arguing that not all prayer on Temple Mount constitutes a violation of public order. However District Court judge Einat Avman Muller ruled that the right to freedom of Jewish worship on the Temple Mount “is not absolute.”
The judge wrote that “there is no need to elaborate on the special sensitivity of Temple Mount, which has been termed ‘one of the most volatile spots in the Middle East if not the entire world’. The basic starting point is that the right to religious worship and ascension to Temple Mount is available to every Jew but this right is not absolute and should be superseded by other interests, among them the safeguarding of public order.”
The judge added that relying on remarks allegedly made in media reports “in order to violate explicit provisions and nullify the offenses attributed to them, is problematic, to say the least.”
Israel Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut had hinted at her displeasure at the lower court’s decision, stating that every ruling can be appealed to higher courts and the decision will not necessarily stand.
Responding to the ruling, the teens’ attorney Nati Rom claimed that “from the moment the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruling was made, a crazy campaign of pressure and threats began…[aimed at] infringing on the independence of the court, and polluting the judicial process.”
The agreement by which Jews can visit the Mount but not pray there has frayed in recent years, as groups of Jews have regularly visited and prayed at the site. The Israeli government, nonetheless, says it is committed to maintaining the status quo, despite reports indicating it has turned a blind eye to some Jews seeking to pray at the Mount.
During last month’s convergence of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish holiday of Passover, the site saw nearly daily clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian terrorists.