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Egyptian, Jordanian fears spur delay in Temple Mount ramp’s demolition

JTA

November 28, 2011 | 10:48 am

A wooden footbridge (below) leading up from the Western Wall to the sacred compound where al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock (L) shrine stand. Photo by REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

A wooden footbridge (below) leading up from the Western Wall to the sacred compound where al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock (L) shrine stand. Photo by REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israel has postponed the demolition of an access ramp to the Temple Mount following concerns expressed by Egypt and Jordan.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Office called on the municipality of Jerusalem to delay the scheduled demolition of the Mughrabi Bridge, a covered wooden ramp which leads from the Western Wall Plaza to the Mughrabi Gate of the Al-Aksa Mosque compound, after Egyptian and Jordanian officials expressed their concerns.

The demolition, which has been postponed for at least a week, had been set to begin on Saturday night.

The Egyptians feared that demonstrators in Tahrir Square in Cairo would shift their focus to Israel. Egypt is and heading to the polls to vote on a new government on Monday. Jordan and Egypt said the demolition could ignite violent protests in their countries, which could spill over into the West Bank.

The ramp, which Israel has called a “danger,” is made of wooden planks held by metal scaffolding. It was installed in 2004 as a temporary measure after the original ramp was damaged by weather and a small earthquake.

The Jerusalem City Council sent a letter late last month to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation giving it 30 days to “dismantle the temporary access ramp to the Temple Mount and build it using non-flammable materials.” The council was acting on the advice of the city engineer.

The Muslim Wakf, which is in charge of Islamic religious sites, claims that the Mughrabi Bridge belongs to Muslims and that Israel has no right to embark on construction in the area.

Israel tried to renovate the bridge four years ago, which sparked protests throughout the Muslim world and calls for a third intifada against Israel. Muslim leaders claimed the construction would harm Islamic holy sites—a charge that UNESCO investigated and denied.

Non-Muslims are permitted to enter the site only through the Mughrabi Gate.

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