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Netanyahu Foils Demolition of Temple Mount Bridge

reprinted from Arutz 7
Kislev 2, 5772, 28/11/11

by Elad Benari

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu prevents the demolition of the Mughrabi Bridge, deemed by engineers dangerous to the public.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu prevented at the last minute the demolition of the Mughrabi Bridge, which links the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount.

According to a report on Sunday on Israelís Channel 2 News, Netanyahuís decision came after pressure from Jordan and Egypt. Both countries said that demolishing the bridge will result in riots.

Jerusalem city engineer Shlomo Eshkol recently said that the bridge to the Mughrabi Gate, also called the Rambam Gate, was structurally unsound, posed a risk to human life, and should be dismantled within 30 days.

Eshkol said in his decision that the bridge, constructed from wood, should be replaced with a structure designed by a competent engineer and made of non-combustible materials.

The Waqf (Department of Islamic Endowments in Jerusalem), however, rejected that opinion, saying the final decision in the matter is theirs.

The Waqf regard the Temple Mount as a Muslim sanctuary under their sole authority. They claim that no one else has a right to interfere or monitor their affairs, and deny Jewish connections to the Temple Mount.

According to the report on Channel 2, the demolition was supposed to take place on Sunday morning, but Netanyahu decided to postpone the demolition until after the matter is further discussed.

The decision was met with anger by MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union), who sent a letter to the Prime Minister on Sunday, demanding that the bridge be demolished right away.

"No one has any doubt that this is a dangerous structure which endangers the public," Ben-Ari wrote Netanyahu. "All the documents show that there is a need to demolish the bridge immediately. Today I was shocked to hear reports in the media saying that the Prime Minister prevented the demolition of the bridge due to considerations that are not professional. Itís difficult for me to understand how the Prime Minister is not considering the publicís safety, particularly when itís one year after the disaster in the Carmel and the State Comptroller is still investigating this issue."

"I hope that these publications are not true and, if they are true, it is a scandal and an offense," Ben-Ari added. "Therefore, I ask the Prime Minister to order the immediate destruction of the structure. If you do not do so, I will have to go to the courts and ask them to remedy the situation in the interest of public safety."

PM delays demolition of Mughrabi Bridge

reprinted from The Jerusalem Post
November 27, 2011 Sunday 1 Kislev 5772

Jordan, Egypt warned Israel taking down bridge that connects Western Wall, Temple Mount may spark regional protests.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a last minute decision to delay the demolition of the Mughrabi Bridge due to Egyptian and Jordanian pressure, according to a Channel 2 news Sunday.

According to the report, Cairo and Amman warned Jerusalem that the destruction of the bridge, which connects the Western Wall plaza to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, would likely lead to "disruptions in the Hashemite Kingdom and [Cairo's] Tahrir Square."

Previous work on the bridge has caused widespread rioting in neighborhoods throughout the Jerusalem area and in Jordan.

Jordan's Ministry of Awkaf Islamic Affairs and Holy Places warned that were Israel to begin to take down the Mughrabi Bridge, the move would likely ignite protests throughout Jordan, and may also spread to the West Bank, Channel 2 news reported.

The government in Cairo, which has been under fire by protesters in that country calling for the Supreme Council of Armed Forces to step down, warned that the demolition in Jerusalem may turn protesters' attention to Israel as well.

The Jerusalem Municipality approved the demolition plans in March this year, and called for heavily deploying security forces near the Temple Mount, in east Jerusalem, and near the Temple Mount, home to the Al-Aksa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, according to Channel 2 news.

The new bridge was meant to replace the temporary wooden bridge that has been in use since a 2003 earthquake and winter storm caused part of the original bridge to collapse, leading city engineers to deem it unsafe. The ramp is used as the main entry point for non- Muslim tourists to visit the plaza, as well as security forces entering the area in times of unrest.

Construction on the Mughrabi Bridge in 2007 sparked protest marches in Jordan, as well as calls for a third intifada and low-level violence in Wadi Joz and other areas of the Holy Basin. UNESCO investigated the site in an attempt to defuse religious tensions, and found that the construction was not damaging holy sites. However, it called on Israel to halt construction until a team of international observers could join.

Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.



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