The Temple Mount vs. Jerusalem vs. Settlement Blocs vs. Isolated Settlements vs. Unbuilt Settlements

I support Bayit Yehudi and protecting the religious interests of the State of Israel.

That being said, the last year and a half even more than the previous four has been particularly damaging to the notion of Religious Zionism. There’s been no strategy or foresight in settlement projects. There’s been no prioritization or differentiation between the importance of Jerusalem and towns in the West Bank; even less has there been any effort to distinguish the centrality of the Temple Mount over any other area of Jerusalem.

There is a clear difference with each of these. The Temple Mount is the most important and least expendable. The remainder of Jerusalem is not merely legally linked as our capital, but it is legally distinct from Judea & Samaria. That message is falling on deaf ears worldwide because we have failed to emphasize that in our policies. We’ve made no distinction whatsoever vis-a-vis settlements, whether they are the so-called settlement blocs or otherwise.

The Temple Mount needs to be on centrists' agenda. (CC BY SA 3.0 Godot13)

The Temple Mount needs to be on centrists’ agenda. (CC BY SA 3.0 Godot13)

I want to keep the whole thing, but we messed up massively by deliberately torpedoing last year’s negotiations even though they were destined to fail on account of Palestinian intransigence. We can’t let that happen again. It sullied whatever efforts the Religious Zionist community has tried to make to advance the cause of Jewish access and utilization of the Temple Mount for visits, prayer and whatever else is vital to our community.

We need to be more strategic and detail-oriented with this. We shouldn’t expend as much political capital on something outside the settlement blocs as we do on Gilo.

The Temple Mount is a cause that would garner more sympathy internationally than settlement construction. I am simply stating facts here – the situation on the Mount is indisputably unfair where a religion who only upholds the site as its 3rd holiest demands a monopoly versus another religious group that considers it 1st among all holy places. That, combined with the awful things terrorists have done over the last few months regarding the site, should make the Temple Mount and its environs the focus of Religious Zionist public relations going into and past the next election cycle. I don’t want it grouped in with issues of lesser importance, like building neighborhoods and yishuvim that don’t exist yet. I don’t want it to be categorized as untouchable, chas v’shalom, if a leftist or centrist government does unseat Netanyahu. Even if Netanyahu or even Bennett wins, we can’t allow the world to continue characterizing everything the Religious Zionist public stands for as reprehensible – as hillulei Hashem rather than kiddushei Hashem.

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