Extremist Temple Groups… From Dispersed Movements to a Federation of 46 Institutions

Occupied Jerusalem – The settlers' celebrations of the anniversary of the occupation of East Jerusalem, or what they call "Jerusalem Unification Day", are still loud. The Israeli government is trying to pass more projects and budgets aimed at Judaizing the city on the 56th anniversary of its occupation.

In recent days, it was remarkable to open the suspended pedestrian bridge above the Wadi Al-Rababa neighborhood in the town of Silwan, after its lands were swallowed up as part of the Judaization projects that target the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Not far from the Judaization bridge, the Israeli occupation government met with representatives of the extremist Temple groups in one of the tunnels adjacent to Al-Aqsa Mosque, with the aim of enhancing coordination and integration between the two sides within the framework of Judaizing the mosque and changing its identity.

During the meeting, ministers, Knesset members, and rabbis made blunt statements about the Jewish right to this holy site for Muslims, and the importance of intensifying efforts to achieve the agendas of extremist Temple groups aimed at building the Third Temple in place of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The occupation authorities inaugurated a suspension bridge in the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem, reaching the south of Al-Aqsa Mosque, as part of measures to Judaize Al-Jazeera screen
The Judaizing pedestrian bridge extends 200 meters, 35 meters high, 4.5 meters wide (Al Jazeera)

The goal.. remove Al-Aqsa

And about the impact of the presence of extremist Temple groups in accelerating the agenda of Judaizing Al-Aqsa, and where can this policy reach? Ziyad Abhis, a researcher specializing in Jerusalem affairs, says that the ultimate goal of the Temple groups and the Israeli right is "religious replacement" by removing the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque from its entire area of existence, and establishing the "alleged Temple" in its place and on its entire area.

On their way to achieving this goal, the Temple groups and the Israeli government adopted – according to researcher Ibhais – interim goals that they see as closer to realization, and they are sequentially:

  • Temporal division.
  • spatial division.
  • The moral establishment of the Temple through the imposition of biblical rituals at Al-Aqsa.

from the margin to the center

As for the historical rise of the Temple groups in the Israeli governments, Ibhais explained that the religious Zionist movement is on the rise and shifting from the periphery to the center.

He explains that the first representative of the Zionist movement was Meir Kahane, who entered the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) in 1984, and when he decided to run for the elections in 1988, a special law was enacted to prevent him from doing so, and there was an agreement to criminalize the idea of "religious Zionism" and keep it outside the political scene.

Then the "religious Zionism" movement returned and regained its ability to enter the Knesset in 2002 through the National Religious Party, and since then the presence of "Temple groups" has escalated in successive governments, and in 2015 they had ministerial influence for the first time after they were obtaining the position of "deputy minister". .

And "religious Zionism" in general is a political spectrum that tends not to participate in the government, but rather to form militias that impose their views, taking the state as a cover for them. But in the idea of the structure specifically, the groups tried to infiltrate society and political systems through official licensed organizations, says Abhis.

In 2013, the dispersed organizations and movements formed the "Union of Structure Organizations", and their number in that year reached 24 institutions. Today, 46 institutions fall under the umbrella of the federation, which confirms the gradual rise of the structure’s institutional system in terms of number, organization, cohesion, and the ability to mobilize funding, in conjunction with the ability to rise in parliament and government.

Thus, extremist groups moved from the method of forming militias and expressing themselves outside the regime to forming institutions and owning the regime, according to the Jordan-based researcher.

Regarding the influence of the Temple groups in the current Israeli government, Abhis says, "We are facing a government dominated by religious Zionism, because the Temple groups are not only present in one frame or in the "Jewish Power" party, but also in the Likud, and half of the deputies and ministers who attended the last meeting in one of The tunnels next to Al-Aqsa Mosque are from the Likud.

Abhis adds, "In Netanyahu's government, consisting of 31 ministers, there are 16 who are counted on the bloc of the Temple groups because they adopt its arguments and work to achieve them. Military, political, economic and security state to achieve this.

For internal use only from the meeting held between the Israeli government and representatives of the Temple congregations in the nearby tunnels. Source:, an Israeli newspaper.
Observers believe that the Temple groups enjoyed undeclared government support until religious Zionism dominated the government (Israeli press)

A cross-party agenda

The researcher, Abhis, refuses to limit the talk about the agenda of Judaizing Al-Aqsa Mosque to the extremist minister Itamar bin Gvir's blackmail of Netanyahu, stating, "We are facing a profound transformation that makes belief in the Temple's agenda a transient state for the parties, and therefore they go to the idea of adopting the Temple voluntarily, not forced."

For his part, Saeed Bisharat, editor-in-chief of the Hoopoes Network for Israeli Affairs, says that the close relationship between the Israeli government and the extremist Temple groups is ancient, but its depth was not revealed as it is now.

Bisharat added, in his interview with Al-Jazeera Net, that these groups were receiving hidden support, but today it is clearly announced, and most of the leaders of the Temple organizations and settlement associations receive state awards; The leader of the "Elad" settlement association won the state award after the completion of excavations under the town of Silwan, adjacent to Al-Aqsa, because he "re-appeared the City of David," as they claim.

Commenting on the recent meeting between the government and the Temple groups in the tunnels surrounding Al-Aqsa, Bisharat said that the matter is not reprehensible and is happening continuously within the government offices, which coordinate with the groups, list their steps and make them public whenever they want.

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