Kislev 13, 5772, 09/12/11
Jordan's foreign minister warns Israel against demolishing the dangerous bridge which links the Western Wall to the Temple Mount
by Elad Benari, Canada
Jordan's foreign minister warned Israel on Friday not to demolish the Mughrabi Bridge which links the Western Wall to the Temple Mount.
Speaking in an interview on the Arabic-language Al-Rai network, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said, "Jordan rejects any Israeli attempt to influence the holy sites in Jerusalem and the character and heritage of the city."
He added that his country is in direct contact with the Israeli government in order to ensure that nothing is done to the bridge.
Judeh's remarks come after on Thursday, the Jerusalem Municipality's chief engineer Shlomo Eshkol said that he planned to issue an immediate order for the closure of the bridge, also called the Rambam Bridge.
In a letter to the Western Wall Foundation, which is responsible for the structure, Eshkol said that the bridge structure was very dangerous and in danger of immediate collapse, and could easily catch fire as well. The order to close the bridge would be issued within seven days, the letter said.
This is not the first time Eshkol has warned about the dangers of the bridge, which is a temporary one and is constructed from wood. In October, he wrote a letter to the [Jewish] Western Wall Heritage Foundation and demanded that the safety hazard in the temporary structure be fixed within 30 days. Although "temporary," the structure has existed for several years after the collapse of the old permanent bridge.
However, the Waqf (Department of Islamic Endowments in Jerusalem) has rejected the demand to demolish the bridge, saying the final decision in the matter is theirs, as they regard the Temple Mount as a Muslim sanctuary under their sole authority. No one else, they claim, has a right to interfere or monitor their affairs.
Israel, in a sharply criticized and unpopular decision associated with Moshe Dayan, then Defense Minister who wished to show the desire for peace on Israel's part, allowed the Waqf to administer the Temple Mount following the 1967 Six Day War. But the final decision on the bridge's future lays with the Israel police and officials in Jerusalem.
Over the years Waqf officials have systematically pursued a policy of obstructing Jewish access and worship to the Temple Mount, refusing to allow necessary repairs to preserve the holy site, blocking access to archeologists, and allowing the wholesale removal and destruction of Jewish antiquities and irreplaceable historic artifacts on the site by Arab construction companies employed to work there.
Secretary-General Hamza Mansour of the Muslim Brotherhood's Islamic Action Front party in Jordan has also condemned Israel for the decision.
On Thursday, Mansour issued a statement in which he said that "Israel is ignoring all the warnings of the Arab and international communities."
In the statement, Mansour also accused the Israeli government of trying to "Judaize" Jerusalem.