Gov’t ‘shocked, furious’ with Jordan over bridge complaint

Amman files complaint with UNESCO over renovation plans on Mughrabi Gate bridge linking the Western Wall Plaza with the Temple Mount.

By OREN KESSLER
June 29, 2011 03:35
1 minute read.
Mughrabi Gate bridge

Mughrabi Gate bridge 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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A diplomatic row erupted between Israel and Jordan this week after UNESCO censured Jerusalem over plans to do renovation work on the Mughrabi Gate bridge, linking the Western Wall Plaza with the Temple Mount.

The official censure from UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee called on Israel to cease all plans to renovate the bridge in Jerusalem’s Old City.

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The censure was accepted unanimously by the committee’s 21 member-states. Australia, Switzerland, Mexico and Brazil voiced reservations about the censure’s language, but did not oppose it, and along with Sweden and Estonia, asked the committee to debate the petition, but were rejected.

Nimrod Barkan, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, attempted to address the committee, but Egypt objected and he was denied the floor. Israel has observer status at the World Heritage Committee.

The committee also called for a UNESCO mission to visit the site to ensure renovation work had been suspended, an option Israel rejected.

Barkan later said Israel is “furious” and “shocked” with Jordan for filing the complaint.

The bridge was due to be torn down last week, after Israel and Jordan reached an agreement that it would be razed due to security concerns.

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An earthen ramp leading to the gate collapsed six years ago, and was replaced by a wooden bridge as a temporary solution.

Yediot Aharonot reported Monday that Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Bahrain had filed a complaint against Israel with UNESCO over the renovations.

Jordan later said it agreed to the renovations under US pressure.

Haaretz reported that the Israel Police are recommending building a permanent bridge to Mughrabi Gate in September, while world attention is diverted by the Palestinian attempt to unilaterally declare statehood at the UN General Assembly.

Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mahmoud al-Kayed told the kingdom’s Petra news agency that UNESCO had “expressed its deep concern over the continuation of the Israeli excavation work inside and around the Old City of Jerusalem as well as failure of the Israeli side to provide the World Heritage Center on information on these excavations.”

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