Those olive twigs on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem must have amazing power.
After all, one American visitor, a U.S. congressman, picked one up, and he and a companion congressman were immediately confronted by police and detained.
Republican Reps. Scott Tipton of Colorado and David B. McKinley of West Virginia were “detained by Israel police after an Islamic Waqf official, which administers the Temple Mount, lodged a complaint against them, reported the Jewish News Syndicate.
JNS said it appears Tipton violated an unknown rule when hebent down to pick up a broken olive branch off the ground.
“His movement seems to have agitated the Waqf official who, apparently believing the congressman was bowing as if in prayer, set off the events that followed,” the report said.
The lawmakers were physically removed from the Temple Mount by police officers, and frisked and detained for more than a half-hour, JNS said.
Their visit was organized by the group Proclaiming Justice to the Nations.
Tipton told the news agency their ordeal “was a little surprising.”
“We were going around and trying to take it all in and being rushed through, and I happened to pick up an olive branch, ironically a symbol of peace. Apparently, that broke a rule – not one that was defined,” he said.
“We had no forewarning going in of what to do and not to do, no instructions. … We were trying to take in what is obviously a religious site not only for Jews and Muslims, but for Christians as well.”
McKinley told JNS that visitors “should be able to pray and reflect on the history and culture.”
“The status quo has to change, to reflect the change in culture over the past 50 years,” he said.
On the political front, JNS reported, Tipton said bipartisan members of Congress strongly support the relationship between the U.S. and Israel.
He said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “probably better than anyone in the world, is able to lay it out in terms of the challenges that, collaboratively, we face, and that are going to be impacting our European allies as well.”
President Trump in December formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and plans to move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.