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Access to Israel’s Holy Sites

 


The Western Wall in Jerusalem

Israel contains many significant holy sites — the Western Wall, the Cave of the Patriarchs (where Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebeccah, Jacob and Leah are believed to be buried), Rachel’s Tomb, the Temple Mount, among others. Access to these sites has been the source of much controversy between Israel and her Arab neighbors.

Israel has always been committed to providing equal access for people of all faiths to religious sites under its jurisdiction. This has been apparent since the founding of the Jewish state: From 1948 to the 1967 Six Day War, Jerusalem was divided between Israel and Jordan. While Israel safeguarded religious sites within Jerusalem and kept access to them open, Jordan desecrated many Jewish holy sites and severely restricted Christians’ and Jews’ access to these locations. Jews were unable to access the Western Wall, were not allowed past the seventh step leading up to the Cave of the Patriarchs, and were no longer allowed to pray at Rachel’s Tomb.

On the heels of the 1967 Six-Day War, when Jerusalem was reunited under Israeli control, Israeli leaders adopted the Protection of Holy Places Law, which guarantees that “The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places.”

The law established harsh punishment for violators: a seven-year prison term for those who desecrate holy places and five years for those who violate others’ freedom of access to the sites. Time and again, Israeli authorities have shown the commitment to uphold this law. More recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly reaffirmed Israel’s commitment to this law, declaring, “The state of Israel in contrast to its neighbors will continue to preserve freedom of religion at these sites and preserve them for future generations.”

In contrast, Arab leaders and governments have often tightly restricted access to holy sites under their control, and looked the other way while Muslim mobs desecrated both Jewish and Christian holy sites. In 2000, after the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) withdrew protection from Joseph’s Tomb, located in Samaria — the disputed West Bank — Palestinian mobs ransacked the structure, destroying everything within it.

After the First Intifada, Bethlehem was placed under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.), while Israel retained control of Rachel’s Tomb, located within this historic city. After constant Arab attacks, in 1996 Israel was forced to build a fortress around the tomb that includes two guard towers, three-foot-thick concrete walls, and barbed wire. Arab rioters and gunmen were a constant threat during this construction project.


Rabbi Eckstein praying at the
Western Wall in Jerusalem

The P.A.’s Ministry of Waqf and Islamic Affairs, which currently controls the Temple Mount, has prohibited all non-Muslims from entering the sanctuary, the exact location where the Jewish Temple once stood. Palestinians have thrown stones from the Temple Mount at Jews praying at the Western Wall below on several occasions.

The U.S. State Department’s 2002 International Religious Freedom Report finds that the P.A. has no law protecting religious freedoms. And public statements from Palestinian religious and political leaders show no respect for Israeli holy sites and no desire to offer the same access that Israel offers at holy sites within her borders. “The Western Wall is just a fence belonging to a Muslim holy site,” said Sheikh Ikrama Sabri, then the official P.A. Mufti, when he demanded that Israel give up all rights over the Temple Mount. And in 2003, P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas declared that a Palestinian state would not tolerate any permanent Jewish presence at the Western Wall, the most sacred site in all Judaism.

In its commitment to protecting religious freedoms, including access to holy sites for people of all faiths, Israel stands apart from its neighbors. Further, it is acting in accordance with the principles on which it was founded: democracy, pluralism, tolerance, and freedom for all.

What do you think?

  • Ruth
    October 6, 2013
    5:02 pm
     

    The real, legitimate sons of Abraham the Jews, hold the Holy Sites with high esteem and value. In comparison to the Muslims, their status as illegits precisely depicts king Solomon’s applied wisdom

    Reply to this comment »
    • Ruth
      October 6, 2013
      5:11 pm
       

      Remember the two women claiming the same child? Remember the hoax mother’s reaction when king Solomon offered to halve the child, she rejoiced, while the actual mother protested? That’s the fitting

      Reply to this comment »
  • RICHARD
    October 5, 2013
    8:56 pm
     

    Proverbs 25:21, If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat: and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.the muslims are shamed by the kindness of the Jews that allow them access to their mutua

    Reply to this comment »
  • Maryann
    October 5, 2013
    5:11 pm
     

    I love the way of freedom of religion is in Israel . I do not stand with The way of Obama.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Edvan
    October 5, 2013
    1:56 pm
     

    What i have to say is that im very proud for getting to know about God’s Nation also i love Israel too. God Bless.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Gebrehiwot
    October 5, 2013
    12:04 pm
     

    I stand with Israel; these historic holy places belong to Israel and are by no means of rational reasoning belong to its neighbor. These are the epicenters of Christianity and the Jews state of Israel

    Reply to this comment »
  • victoria
    October 5, 2013
    11:38 am
     

    I love Israel and bless them. I think it is good for Christians and other religions to understand where our faith comes from and why we believe as we do.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Murugesa
    October 5, 2013
    10:51 am
     

    Israel is true a democracy and naturally the people of the USA and India are also with you.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Brendaun t
    October 5, 2013
    10:31 am
     

    I love Israel,I admire the PM,and respect him.NO ONE will take ISRAEL,our of Goes hand

    Reply to this comment »
  • Renae
    October 5, 2013
    9:40 am
     

    I love Israel. My father taught me to love, pray for and bless Israel, as stated above in Scripture
    “Those who bless Israel shall be blessed”…
    Israelis the center of world history.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Gina
    October 5, 2013
    9:32 am
     

    I Love Israel! Jesus Is Lord Over Israel! As the scripture says whoever bless Israel will also bless. GODbless Israel!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Mitzi
    August 29, 2013
    7:41 pm
     

    I love Israel!

    Reply to this comment »
    • Dixie
      October 4, 2013
      12:18 pm
       

      Mitzi, I, too love Israel. I do not trust Obama. He is an excellent orator but so was Hitler. Note: I tried to join Mossad when in Israel but they thought 77 was a bit too old. (

      Reply to this comment »
    • Murugesa
      October 5, 2013
      10:49 am
       

      Me too.

      Reply to this comment »
  • Mary
    September 2, 2012
    3:22 pm
     

    Thr Western Wall and all the Holy Sites belong to the Jewish People and they most willingly share with the Christians and other peoples and it is clear that Israels enemies , Presitdent M. Ahmadinejad does not want peace nor to share the Holy Sites on any of Jersualem Israel. He has even denied the Holocaust ever happened. Our own President Obama is no friend to Israel and would deceive you into beliving that the Islam Religin is harmlessit is not.

    Reply to this comment »
    • Sandra
      November 11, 2012
      8:09 am
       

      I agree with Mary on this point. I stand for Israel and against Obama in this as I don’t believe he is to be trusted,

      Reply to this comment »
  • Risper
    January 4, 2012
    6:44 am
     

    I also stand for Israel.The lord said that Whoever blesses Israel wi ll be blessed also.Lord bless Israel and her sons & daughters.

    Reply to this comment »
    • Rosemary
      November 28, 2012
      12:34 pm
       

      I agree with Isreal, God Alighty instructed us in the Bible, ” I will Bless those that Bless you(Isreal), and curse those that curse you”. Isreal is and always will be God’s chosen people, the apple of his eye. I love my country,USA, but not Obama’s policies, he is sideing with his muslem brothers, and I love Isreal.

      Reply to this comment »
    • Pat
      January 4, 2013
      11:32 pm
       

      I definitely agree with Risper! God Blesses those who Bless Israel. I stand for Israel and am against Obama who is against it.

      Reply to this comment »
  • Ahvram
    September 8, 2011
    7:24 pm
     

    For the Christian, Israel is a fulfillment of prophecy and is the land in which they anticipate the return of Jesus of Nazareth. For the Jew, Israel is the fulfillment of prophecy regarding a safe homeland for the Jews from around the world. In either scenario, Israel belongs to HaShem. It is the responsibility of the Jew and the Christian to take care of the land while its overseer, The Almighty, encompasses it with His mighty right hand….

    Reply to this comment »
    • susan
      October 18, 2011
      2:02 pm
       

      I couldnt have said it better myself. I am a Christian and I do believe this is the site where my lord will return, and I also believe as Christians its our responsibilty to help our Irsael brothers and sisters protect that which is Holy. I believe those that are against Israel are against God. I pray for Israel..

      Reply to this comment »
    • Mindy
      October 5, 2013
      9:23 am
       

      Amen..! Israel is all of our responsibility to protect..

      Reply to this comment »
  • Jeffro-Bodine
    August 16, 2011
    5:52 pm
     

    EVERYBODY,please help, or donate anything you can to this site so they can help the people of Israel. We, the USA, need Israel FAR more than we ever thought. If THEY go down, WE ALL go down! They are our most faithful allies and have EVERY RIGHT to defend themselves,and the land that GOD HIMSELF gave them. How can we turn our backs to them by not helping in any way we can. Many of the elderly citizens of Israel remind me of my own Grand-parents! Wouldn’t you help yuor Grand-parents? Your mothers and fathers? Our brothers and sisters? They need us, who have so much more than they do, to give what we can!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Thomas
    August 10, 2011
    6:54 am
     

    Yes, my brothers and sisters in Christ, we must stand with Israel. She is gorgeous, phenomenal, and blessed by our God! I have been there three times, and I have been captivated and mesmerized by her breathtaking beauty, her history, her greatness, fallen in love with the people. But most of all, I have been captivated by her King Yeshua (Jesus, the Christ).

    These are tough times for Israel, but God has written the script and she will rise and triumph over every adverse obstacle placed before her. After the drama of endtime prophecy has been fulfilled and the dust has cleared, Israel will be found standing victorious and King Yeshua will reign! Amen.

    Reply to this comment »
  • RedState
    July 14, 2011
    7:25 pm
     

    Israel is often criticized for slaughtering so many people as they moved into the Promised Land, but with the way various Arab/Muslim factions have acted over the years, you kind of understand why.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Diann
    May 21, 2011
    2:16 am
     

    As a Christian, I do believe we are living in historic times…rough times and the rewards of Glory will be there for those who believe. We must stand with Israel and her brave people. I stand with Israel and pray for her people and I want them to know that they are not alone.

    Reply to this comment »
    • Margaret
      August 4, 2011
      7:38 pm
       

      Peace be with you. I totally agree with your thoughts about Israel. We are as much a part of our jewish brothers and sisters as they are a part of us. We are one in Christ and through him we are ingrafted into one vine-according to the Holy Scriptures. We must stand together as one because we are members one body. What affects Israel must affect the Christian communities. Jesus said, I and my Father are one and to his disciples he said, as my Father loves me and I love him, so we must love one another. We are told to pray for the peace of Jerusalem so I believe we need to pray more sincerely that the Temple Mount will be released in the Name of Jesus to Israel and her people. I pray that the horrible killing they endure on a daily basis will cease in the name of Jesus. Satan must realize by now that he has lost the battle, that he is defeated, and Jesus Christ is Lord forever. In Christ.

      Reply to this comment »
  • Carolyn
    April 25, 2011
    7:14 pm
     

    Jesus Christ is 100% GOD and 100% MAN. He is the son of the LIVING GOD! He is the KING of kings and the LORD of lords! He came to die on the cross to pay our sin debts. He suffered a horrific beating that we might be healed and died an undescribable death that we might be saved. He was resurected on the 3rd. day and when he assended back to the father he made us a promise, He went to prepare a place for us (For all of those who Believe on him, Love him, obey Him, and Serve him,) He went to prepare a place for us so that where he is WE MAY BE ALSO!!! As for me– I will lOVE him, OBEY him, SERVE him, LIVE for him and if it is his will I WILL DIE for him! I may be subjected to forces that I cannot control, BUT he is my ROCK, my strength and my SALVATION and I will never deny hom.

    Reply to this comment »
  • joy
    April 22, 2011
    4:04 pm
     

    Cannot get my head around the prophecies, but the current crescendo of catastrophies suggest the end time may be near, including the financial crises, the good news of Messiah Jesus spread world wide and the nation Israel exists again, thus, maybe soon, the Jews will know the Messiah, we Christians believe he is Jesus or Yeshua, and he will come back and fix things according to God’s will. Meanwhile Christians and Jews will suffer serious attacks,but in the end nothing will thwart God’s plans. If you want this info read the prophecies in the Christian part of the Bible, as well as the Torah, then look at current affairs to try to be aware of God’s end times actions, otherwise what happens might not make sense and you might be tempted to waver in your faith. Above all keep trusting in God.

    Reply to this comment »
    • Rita
      October 6, 2013
      2:13 am
       

      RE: Joy,Above all keep trusting in God.No matter whay our eyes see or what our ears hear,keep the faith because G-d is faithful to do all he said He will do.

      Reply to this comment »
  • Joan
    April 22, 2011
    2:29 pm
     

    Could it be the the Lord our God is allowing these things so that Israel may turn to Him for protection instead of its so-called allies?
    The Lord God of Israel reigns!
    We pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Leah
    April 22, 2011
    12:31 am
     

    We are living in the end of days. Iran, China & Russia will attack Israel with a nuclear attack. God will protect his people & destroy these satanic forces. America stands with Israel inspite of Obama being pro muslim

    Reply to this comment »
  • Karen
    April 21, 2011
    7:45 pm
     

    America and Australia are in urgent need of Good Christian Leaders. People who will lead our nations in accordance and obedience to God’Word, and who will not bow down in fear to the people who love death. At the moment we have Obama who is anti Israel and Gillard who is anti God.
    As Resurrection Day nears it’s a reminder, that the spirit of darkness and evil have already been defeated. Israel and the believing Christians have already won. Thank you God for being a God of Life.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Jeannie
    April 21, 2011
    5:07 pm
     

    It seems as though the only group who’s receiving all the human rights, accessability and freedoms are the anti-Christians and Jews. This is true thoughout the world. They are pushing the Christians and Jews out of places and taking over by force. The Bible says “Stand Your Ground”. We all need to stand up for OUR faith and beliefs before the opposition makes theirs “LAW”.

    Reply to this comment »
    • susan
      October 18, 2011
      2:41 pm
       

      We cant ever give up. We true Christians will continue to support Israel no matter what our leaders want.We have to stand firm. Hate,Greed,Lust are overcoming our nation and our world,and this was foretold in the Bible. Jesus is coming for all those to see. Be ready for him at all times.

      Reply to this comment »
  • Bradley
    April 21, 2011
    2:13 pm
     

    I am reminded of the lines of a song;
    “There will never be any peace,
    until God, is seated at the conference table!”
    The Bible is very clear, one day soon, Israel will stand alone against the world! God will have his judgement and Jesus will be crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords!!

    Reply to this comment »
  • David
    April 21, 2011
    12:14 pm
     

    It was heart-wrenching to not be allowed upon the platform when I was there in ’09. I understand wanting to keep the peace, but why Israel did not take the Mount by force….I can never fathom.

    Reply to this comment »
    • Bradley
      April 21, 2011
      2:14 pm
       

      Obama is no fan of Israel and will work to undermine the Jewish state.

      Reply to this comment »
      • Jann
        May 12, 2013
        9:27 pm
         

        Bradley: you are so right. Obama is so pro Muslim.How he can deny it or anyone would believe otherwise is just plain impossible to believe.

        Reply to this comment »
  • Nadene
    April 21, 2011
    12:11 pm
     

    I am worried about the peace plan Obama may present next month forcing Israel back to the 67 borders and dividing Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israel. Jordan never honored its promise to Israel before to have access to holy sites. What makes the government think Palestinians would? There are sites in Judea and Samaria as well, and Jews would be forced to leave in his plan.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Rosa
    April 21, 2011
    12:08 pm
     

    Since I get saves I always praise for that peace of JERUSALEM because I knou the is the land of my Father who is in Heaven and He will be back to rule and have dominion over the land of JERUSALEM. AMEN

    Reply to this comment »
    • Gayatri
      November 7, 2012
      5:40 pm
       

      Mace, I nor, dare I say it, Geert Wilders and the PVV seek to woo Anti Semitic Leftwingers as our allies.The poplee that severely criticize Israel, also severely criticize European Christians/Nations,

      Reply to this comment »

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