Israel News for September 7, 2016

Prayer Banned
Jews are already banned from praying on the Temple Mount. Now Israeli police has extended the ban to include the entire Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Police have recently arrested a number of Jews found praying outside the entrances to the Temple Mount. At a court hearing on Monday, Police claimed that the ban on Jewish prayer extends to the entrances of the Temple Mount and even to the entire Muslim quarter, because it is considered “disturbing the peace,” unless coordinated in advance with police.

According to police, “Prayer is permissible anywhere in the Jewish Quarter, but the moment you come without permission and pray in the Muslim Quarter, that causes a public disturbance. Inside the Muslim Quarters and the entrances it is forbidden to pray.” The judge agreed.

Ba careful where you pray in Jerusalem. You could get arrested.

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Building Collapse Arrest
Police have made an arrest relating to Monday’s building collapse in Tel Aviv which killed four workers. Rescue forces are still searching for three missing workers who they hope might still be alive in the rubble. The identity of the individual arrested is being kept secret. The investigation into the causes of the collapse is continuing.

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Shabbat Train
Last Friday, just minutes before the onset of Shabbat, PM Netanyahu ordered a halt to the work on the railroad by Israel Railways as a result of pressure from the Ultra-Orthodox parties who claimed that the work was a blatant violation of the Shabbat laws by a government organization. The sudden stoppage in work caused major cancellations and chaos in the normal railway schedules on Saturday night and Sunday, which in turn resulted in angry commuters and heavy traffic jams.

Yesterday Israel’s Supreme Court issued an interim ruling saying that the Prime Minister does not have the authority to prohibit the railroad company from doing infrastructure work on Shabbat. The court ruling was in response to a petition submitted by Meretz MK Zehava Galon. The court ordered the train company “not to heed any provision regarding infrastructure and maintenance work given to it by the Prime Minister, until a final decision is made on the petition.”

The government claimed that the PM did not cancel the permits and that only the Transportation Minister has the authority to cancel permits. The government said, “The permits were not cancelled and remain valid. Therefore, Israel Railways may make use of the permits as long as they have not been cancelled.”

What will happen this coming Shabbat is yet to be seen.

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Election Poll
According to a new poll released by Israel’s Channel 2 News, if new elections were held now, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid’s party would grab 24 seats, more than double the 11 it garnered in the last election. PM Netanyahu’s Likud party would only get 22, down from the 30 it got last time. That would make Lapid the new Prime Minister, assuming he could put together a coalition. But that might not be so easy, considering that the Zionist Union would potentially drop from 24 seats to just 13 and Finance Minister Moshe Kahalon’s party would drop from 10 seats to 6.

That means Lapid, who is considered to be a “centrist”, would have a hard time forming a non right wing government. On the other hand, Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi party is estimated to jump from 8 seats to 14 while Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beyteinu will potentially go from its current 6 to 10. Add the Ultra Orthodox parties to the mix and Netanyahu will probably still have the upper hand in forming a right wing coalition. But anything can happen in Israeli politics.

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Second Temple Discovery
Archeologists have reconstructed sections of the flooring of the Second Temple from tiles dumped in the trash by Waqf authorities, who administer the Temple Mount area. The archeologists are part of the Temple Mount Sifting Project, in which they sift through the debri discarded by the Waqf in search of valuable artifacts. Much of the debris is from excavation and construction projects carried out on the Temple Mount by the Muslim authorities that Israel views as illegal.

Archeologists have found over 600 colored floor tile pieces, of which about 100 have been confirmed to be from the Second Temple period. The tiles are consistent with tiles found in other Herodian palaces from the same period. Many sources, including the Talmud, confirm the existence of magnificent colored tile floors in the Temple.

To see photos of the restored tiles click here.