Arabs say ‘No’ to Israel’s Western Wall plans for egalitarian prayer-site

PA religious affairs minister says replacing Mugrabi Bridge to Temple Mount for egalitarian section may “push all of us to new conflicts and problems,” stressing the Western Wall is an Islamic holy site.

 

 

The Palestinian Authority will not permit Israel to change the entrance to the Temple Mount in order to facilitate the building of an egalitarian prayer area near the Western Wall, PA Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud El Habash told The Jerusalem Post in Ramallah Thursday morning.

PA Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud El Habash.- Photo Gil Hoffman

PA Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud El Habash.- Photo Gil Hoffman

Sharansky’s plan will allow for the construction of an additional section of the Western Wall Plaza at the southern end of the Kotel, equal in size and height as the northern prayer area, for egalitarian prayer and accessible as part of one unified Western Wall complex with a single entrance. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has told Sharansky to meet with National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror to deal with issues like how to handle moving the Mugrabi Bridge to the Temple Mount.

He said he considers the Western Wall an Islamic holy site, al-Buraq.

“Any changes in Haram a-Sharif [Temple Mount] is unacceptable to the Palestinians and Arab side,” Habash said in a meeting with Israeli journalists. “It’s a change of our heritage site and I believe such changes may push all of us to new conflicts and problems.”

Habash, who is a former Hamas member from the Gaza Strip but strongly backs two states for two peoples, said any change in the status quo regarding the Temple Mount must wait until a final status agreement between Israel and the PA.

The remains of Robinson's Arch on the western side of the Temple Mount - Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The remains of Robinson’s Arch on the western side of the Temple Mount – Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

“Any changes in this situation will make the problem more difficult,” Habash said. “We don’t agree to any changes. It’s a Wakf place, and Islamic place and we have documents to prove it. You can pray how you want after the liberation of Palestine.”

Habash said he would agree with Netanyahu that there should be peace talks without preconditions, but only if the prime minister gave guarantees that the talks would not fail like past negotiations. He said he is trying to persuade his people to support a two-state solution but he is concerned that Netanyahu will not be willing to translate his support for a Palestinian state into actions.

“If you believe in two states, where do you imagine it – on the moon?” he asked rhetorically.

 

View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/PA-objects-to-Israels-Western-Wall-construction-plans-316375

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