Work at Mughrabi Gate may be delayed

J'lem mayor opens project to public discussion; Ben-Gvir calls to outlaw Islamic Movement.

avi dichter 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
avi dichter 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski decided Sunday night to open the construction plan at the Mughrabi Gate to public debate, saying that given the sensitivity of the situation such a debate would ensure total transparency to all concerned parties. While excavation at the site will continue undeterred, construction on the project will only begin following end of the public discussion on the subject. The public forum will be held under the auspices of the local Committee for building and planning. On Sunday, the government unanimously approved a resolution on Sunday to continue the construction work at the Mughrabi Gate, one of the loudest protesters of the dig - the radical Islamic Movement - came under consideration for legal action. Far-right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir sent a letter to Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz on Sunday requesting that he declare the group illegal. According to Ben-Gvir, "if they made the Kahanist movement illegal, they must operate the same way with the Islamic Movement."
  • Tourists targeted amid J'lem riots The organization, which refuses to recognize Israel, has been particularly vocal in calling for jihad over the current excavations near the Temple Mount. Meanwhile, Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi has ordered a criminal investigation against the head of the movement's northern arm, Sheikh Raed Salah, for alleged incitement and sedition, Israel Radio reported. According to the report, Salah, who was banned from Jerusalem's Old City on Wednesday after scuffling with police over the excavations, repeatedly called on Islamic Movement members to come to Jerusalem and guard the Al Aksa Mosque bodily. At a government meeting on the controversial construction, all ministers present voted in favor of the resolution to continue the work, except for three abstentions. The ministers who abstained were Education Minister Yuli Tamir, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and minister-without-portfolio Ghaleb Majadle. The resolution stated that the work will be completed as quickly as possible, and until it is finished, the Foreign Ministry will continue diplomatic efforts to neutralize criticism. Earlier Sunday, Interior Security Minister Avi Dichter said that construction work at the Mughrabi Gate in Jerusalem would continue despite mounting pressure from both violent Palestinian protestors and Arab countries alike. "Many who oppose the work do not even know precisely where it is being done," said Dichter during a morning tour in the area. Police have limited entrance to Muslim worshippers on the Temple Mount out of concern for continued possible disruptions in the area. Entrance to the mosques has been authorized only to Palestinian men over the age of 45 who own an Israeli identity card, and to women of all ages. Jerusalem Police Chief Insp.-Gen. Ilan Franco told Army Radio that police estimated that police photographs of the weekend's protests showed even men over the age of 45 participating in the acts of violence against both police and tourists - essentially, the same men that the city would now allow back into the compound, said Franco. It was not yet known when the alert level in Jerusalem - which was raised following the violence which sprung from the excavation work - would be lowered. Communal Palestinian street prayers were not to be conducted on Saturday, and police have been dispersed throughout the Old City to keep the peace.