Netanyahu postpones Al-Aqsa bridge demolition

11/28/2011 07:53

Ma'an News:  TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has postponed the demolition of a bridge providing access to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque due to regional pressure, Israeli media said Sunday.

The plan to tear down and rebuild the Bab (gate) al-Margharbeh walkway was shelved for an unspecified time period on Saturday while officials study different aspects of the issue, Israel's Channel 2 television reported.

Israel's Jerusalem municipality said on Oct. 24 it needed to demolish and replace the bridge within 30 days due to danger of collapse or fire, PA official news agency Wafa reported.

But the move was stalled after Jordanian and Egyptian pressure, Channel 2 said.

The Jordanian Minister of Islamic Affairs said on Saturday that King Abdullah II of Jordan was personally following up the issue, working with international organizations to stem the demolition. Jordan says it has developed an alternative solution with the UN's cultural agency UNESCO.

Meanwhile, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood held a demonstration at Cairo's al-Azhar mosque on Friday, calling for the "liberation" of Jerusalem from Israeli control. The same day, Hamas and Islamic Jihad rallied in Gaza for the protection of Jerusalem's Palestinian character.

The PLO and Palestinian Awqaf (Islamic endowments) officials have also made appeals to halt the demolition of the bridge, a main access route to to the Islamic holy site the Haram al-Sharif compound which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock.

Israel seized control of East Jerusalem -- including the Old City -- after a 1967 war, and annexed the city in a move never recognized by the international community.

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are unable to visit East Jerusalem without special permits, and say that Israel's control of the city endangers their right to worship and a future Palestinian state, which is not viable without the eastern sector as its capital.

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