In the fall of 2015, did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declare that the contested Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism and the third most sacred site in Islam, is a “religious site for Muslims only”? He most definitely did not, but that didn’t stop Haaretz‘s English edition from reporting that he did. A July 17, 2017 analysis erred (“Israel, Muslim Temple Mount Authority Up a Tree Without a Lader – and No American Safety Net“):
As noted, in 2015, Netanyahu was even forced to declare the Mount a religious site for Muslims only.
In 2015, Netanyahu did not declare the Temple Mount “a religious site for Muslims only.” To the contrary, on Oct. 25, 2015, when he affirmed the status quo in which the Temple Mount is a place for Muslim prayer only, Netanyahu began his statement by explicitly noting the importance of the site for all three monotheistic religions. As reported in Haaretz at the time, the Prime Minister stated:
Recognizing the importance of the Temple Mount to peoples of all three monotheistic faiths – Jews, Muslims and Christians: Israel re-affirms its commitment to upholding unchanged the status quo of the Temple Mount, in word and in practice.
As we have said many times, Israel has no intention to divide the Temple Mount, and we completely reject any attempt to suggest otherwise.
We respect the importance of the special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, as reflected in the 1994 peace treaty between Jordan and Israel, and the historical role of King Abdullah II.
Israel will continue to enforce its longstanding policy: Muslims pray on the Temple Mount; non-Muslims visit the Temple Mount. (Emphasis added.)
Thus, while in 2015, Netanyahu asserted that the Temple Mount is a place for Muslim (but not Jewish) prayer, he did not declare that it is a religious site only for Muslims. As last week’s article accurately reported (in Hebrew and English) several paragraphs before the erroneous statement:
Under the latest agreement, reached in autumn 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly announced that the Mount isn’t a place for Jewish prayer.
In addition, the Hebrew article reported that in 2015 Netanyahu declared the site a “makom pulchan” for Muslims – a place of ritual, which is accurate. But the English edition’s translation of “makom pulchan” as “religious site” is not accurate translation. In any event, Haaretz‘s translation failure is a secondary point, as Netanyahu’s words were in English, and they directly contradict the claim in Haaretz‘s English edition that he declared the Temple Mount a “religious site for Muslims only.”
The bottom line is that in October 2015 Netanyahu reaffirmed the Temple Mount’s status quo which prohibits Jewish ritualistic practice (including prayer), and he also reaffirmed the site’s great religious significance for Judaism and Christianity, as well as Islam.
CAMERA contacted Haaretz English edition editors last week to request correction of the false claim that Prime Minister Netanyahu called the Temple Mount “a religious site for Muslims only.” Editors have yet to correct.