(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Prime Minister’s Office ordered the dismantling of a foot bridge under construction from the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount to supplement the Mugrabi Bridge, government officials confirmed on Wednesday.
The move came at the request of the Jordanian government, the officials said.
According to the officials, the PMO has ultimate jurisdiction – because of the volatility of the area – for the site.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made it clear at a press conference on August 6 that he had no intention of altering the state of affairs on the Temple Mount, a highly sensitive issue in Jordan and throughout the Muslim world.
“I want to make sure that everyone understands that Israel respects and will continue to respect the status quo on the Temple Mount,” he said. “We know that there are arrangements there, including the traditional role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and we are not about to change it.”
One government official said that the new footbridge to the Mugrabi Gate was a private initiative taken “without any coordination with the PMO, or permission.”
He said that the Jordanians made it clear that any change in the area created problems for them and asked that it be dismantled.
The existing bridge, itself a “temporary” replacement for a stone ramp that was damaged in an earthquake and subsequent snow storm in 2003, is the main entry point for non-Muslim tourists and for security forces entering the Temple Mount.
Any new structure would only “create additional tensions,” the official said, adding that the existing ramp was sufficient.
The official pointed out that the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan granted the Hashemites a special status at Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites.
“The structure was unnecessary,” the official said.
“Why create unnecessary areas of friction. Responsible leadership wants to reduce areas of friction, not add to them.”