(Times of Israel) On Tuesday, the struggle of Jewish women fighting to worship with prayer shawls at the Western Wall in Jerusalem received renewed attention when protesters at the holy site were joined by several new members of Knesset, spotlighting Israel’s ongoing policy of imposing Orthodox practice on all worshipers at the wall.
But in the coming years a different battle over Jewish prayer, one unfolding a few paces away, is likely to be of more significance — a growing debate over whether Jews should be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount itself.
The desire to pray on the Mount, also the site of Islam’s third-holiest shrine, has found more acceptance among mainstream rabbis in Israel over the past decade, spreading gradually from a tiny fringe to a broader religious public. The numbers of Jews actually visiting the Mount for religious reasons is still tiny — no more than several thousand a year, according to police estimates — but inching upward, and the sacred enclosure is slowly gaining in importance as an issue of religious and political meaning for religious Zionists, a group with outsize ideological and political clout in Israeli society.
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That could make it a flashpoint inside Israel and an inflammatory issue for local Muslims and the entire Islamic world.