The Temple Mount has long been at the center of the Middle East conflict. All three major world religions–Judaism, Christianity and Islam–claim it as holy to their faith. As such, it is much more than just a political flashpoint.
The Muslims control most of the Temple Mount, and use it as a platform for violent protest and to express their displeasure over Israeli politics, and, indeed, the very existence of the Jewish state.
Due to security concerns related to the above, access to the Temple Mount is restricted for non-Muslims, and those Jews and Christians who are permitted to ascend the sacred plateau are strictly forbidden to pray there. Of course, many Jews find this situation unacceptable, given that this is the location of the biblical temples, making it imperative that they pray there, especially on the appointed feast days.
More and more, this is the position of not only Jews, but many Christians and even a few Arab Muslims. Among the latter is Nahil Zoabi, a Muslim teacher and headmaster of a school in the Arab town of Tamra. During a recent visit to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Zoabi declared that the Temple Mount should be a place of worship for all religions, and that Jews in particular should be allowed to pray there.
“The Temple Mount is a unifying place, and therefore everyone, including the Jews, who has the desire to pray on the Temple Mount, has the fundamental right to do so,” said, Zoabi, adding that he would “be more than happy to see Jews praying with mutual respect alongside the Muslims praying in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”