MK Miri Regev (Likud), appointed Wednesday to chair the Knesset Interior and
Environmental Affairs Committees, generated heated controversy when she said she
intended to tour the Temple Mount with Interior Committee members to further the
possibility of legalizing Jewish prayer at the site.
“Jews can pray at
the Temple Mount,” said Regev, who in her new role could play a pivotal part in
changing longstanding legislation barring Jewish visitors from praying
In a statement to the press Wednesday, she added that she will not
hesitate to address the highly controversial issue.
“I don’t understand
why a Jew is not allowed to pray in the most sacred place for him – the Temple
Mount,” she said. “I intend to soon tour there, with an emphasis on freedom of
MK Michal Roisin (Meretz) swiftly condemned Regev’s
comments in a statement Wednesday, warning that her words could sabotage the
peace process and ignite a “third intifada.”
“This is a low attempt and a
cynical use of religion for political purposes to sabotage the peace process,”
“The government operates on an internal contradiction – on
the one hand, it claims to adhere to the outline of two states for two peoples;
and on the other hand, initiatives like this one by MK Regev hinder the process
Roisin warned that it was just such an initiative by
former prime minister Ariel Sharon in 2000 that ignited the second
“MK Regev seems to be all too happy to launch a third
intifada,” she continued. “It’s up to the prime minister to immediately stop
such an initiative. The Temple Mount issue will only be resolved through
a peace agreement that will recognize it as a sacred place for the three
religions – and only then can we allow all three religions to respectfully pray
there and carry out their beliefs with pluralism, equality and mutual
Still, MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) has repeatedly expressed great
consternation that Jews, including members of Knesset, are prevented from going to the Temple
Mount to pray.
Meanwhile, Regev, who was roundly criticized last May for
calling migrants a “cancer,” also said she will ensure that political refugees
continue to enjoy the protection they are afforded under international law,
while illegal immigrants remain prosecuted.
“The committee will maintain
the character of the national and democratic state, with concern for minorities
and individuals,” she said. “Concern for minorities is, in my opinion, a Jewish
Regev said that in the coming weeks she will also tour
south Tel Aviv to study the illegal immigration problem.
members responded to her promotion with praise and wished her success.
a statement, MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) said Regev will represent the
people of Israel fairly and effectively.
“I’m sure the Interior Committee
headed by MK Miri Regev would not be a rubber stamp for the government,” said
“And [she] will focus on issues regarding improving the quality
life for the citizens of Israel – even if sometimes she will have to act against
Indeed, Regev said she is going to implement her “social
world view,” which seeks to “put the person at the center,” adding that such a
focus will serve to strengthen local government.
MK David Azoulay (Shas)
praised Regev’s ideology, saying “the role of the committee is to take care of
the local governments and prevent any harm to local authorities.”
also said she will work to continue to strengthen the Environmental Protection
Ministry and address the issues of civil rights and natural resources.
Hamad Amer (Yisrael Beytenu) emphasized the importance of promoting the
development plans for Druse communities, “because they have not been advanced in
40 years,” he said.
Regev said that she will cooperate fully with the
government and the coalition, while maintaining “independence of
She was sworn in before Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and
Knesset House Committee chairman MK Tzachi Hanegbi, and will hold both positions
throughout the term of the 19th Knesset without rotations.