Majority of Israelis Want Temple Rebuilt On Temple Mount

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:11 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - A majority of Israeli Jews would like to see a third temple rebuilt on the Temple Mount, according to a recent survey.

The survey of 775 people, reported in Thursday's Jerusalem Post, found that 53 percent of respondents want to see the temple rebuilt on the disputed site where the historical Jewish temples once stood and where Muslim shrines stand today.

Nevertheless, 55 percent of those surveyed said that current restrictions on the Temple Mount should remain as they are. Neither Jews nor Christians are allowed to pray on the holy hill.

The Temple Mount and the Old City are at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Since 1967, Israel has maintained security control over the Mount, while the Wakf, Muslim religious authorities have control over day-to-day affairs. The Palestinians would like to see the Temple Mount as well as the Old City become part of the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The survey was commissioned by the Reform Judaism movement ahead of Thursday's Tisha B'Av fast, which marks the destruction of the first and second temples on the Temple Mount in 586 B.C. and 70 A.D. respectively.

Thousands of religious Jews gathered at the Western Wall, beneath the Temple Mount, to pray and read the Book of Lamentations on Wednesday evening.

Under intense security, tens of thousands of others walked around the Old City Walls through eastern Jerusalem on Wednesday evening to commemorate the destruction of the Temple.

The crowd was joined by Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, who encouraged Jewish visitors among them to immigrate to Israel. He said the fast day could not be separated from the current situation in the country.

"It is impossible to disconnect this evening from the sensitive times we're going through," Olmert said. This is the worst war Israel has passed through, he said, because it is in the streets and the gates of the settlements.

"There is no holier place than this place in the heart of Jerusalem," Olmert said.

"Therefore the people of Israel will come here, return [here]... No power can remove us from the Temple Mount or the Temple Mount from us," he added.