mosque demo yasuf 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
The Palestinian Authority announced on Sunday that it would renovate the mosque that was torched over the weekend in the village of Yasuf, south of Nablus.
The announcement came as villagers demonstrated in protest against a planned visit by a group of rabbis who had sought to voice their condemnation for the arson. The group eventually met with a top PA official at the Tapuah Junction.
IDF troops blocked the Jews' entrance to the village for security reasons.
Munir Aboushi, the PA governor of the Salfit district, which includes the village of Yasuf, said that the protests erupted following reports that settlers had joined the rabbis' delegation.
"The situation inside the village is extremely tense," Aboushi told The Jerusalem Post. "I told the rabbis who were planning to visit Yasuf that this is not the appropriate time and they understood my message."
The governor said that he made it clear to the rabbis that the Palestinians still welcome any person who wants to condemn the actions of the settlers.
"We support peace and want to live in security," he said. "But what happened in Yasuf is an act of racism and terror."
But the mayor of Yasuf, Abdel Rahim Musleh, issued stronger statements against the rabbis. He said that he and the villagers had "no doubt" that the rabbis had come from nearby settlements and were up to no good.
"We don't trust these people," he said. "They came from the settlements and had with them radical settlers."
The mayor claimed that he and village leaders had been misled into thinking that the visit had been organized by left-wing Israeli groups that advocate peace with the Palestinians.
"Last night we were told that some Israeli peace activists were planning to come to the village to express their solidarity with the Palestinians against the daily crimes of the settlers," he added. "But in the morning we were surprised to discover that these were actually rabbis, some of whom came from surrounding settlements."
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who visited Yasuf later in the day, announced that renovation work in the mosque would begin on Monday. He said that the mosque would be reopened for prayers before Friday.
Fayyad strongly condemned the arson, saying it was proof of the huge damage that Israel's policy of settlement construction was causing to the Palestinians.
He also called for "international protection" for the Palestinians against settler "crimes."