The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America today criticized Secretary of State Albright’s statement on Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount which she had called “counterproductive”. Opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount last Thursday in an effort to reassert the right of Jews to visit the Temple Mount, highlighting the deep Jewish historical and spiritual connection to the Temple Mount that was the site of the binding of Isaac by Abraham our Patriarch thousands of years ago. As Jewish ties to our holiest site continue to be challenged, it is important to remember that the Temple Mount, Har Habayit, is our national treasure. It is intolerable that Jews cannot visit the Temple Mount without threats, riots, and violence on the part of the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Barak has stated clearly that the riots that took place these past few days have nothing to do with the Sharon visit to the Temple Mount. By many accounts, Israeli and military security officials had known for some weeks that Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat was planning the riots, once again using violence to advance his political position. If the United States is to remain a credible facilitator in the Middle East peace process, Secretary Albright should refrain from such pronouncements. Every Jew has the right to visit the holiest place for the Jewish people. Events of recent days continue to underscore our long-held position that Jerusalem and the holy places should remain under Israeli sovereignty so that no one of any faith is denied access to a holy place.