Monday, March 15, 2010

Tension in Jerusalem towards dangerous level

Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyhu said on Monday, that his government in no way will halt building in Jerusalem. Netanyhu spoke on a meeting of his party, the Likud, and in a speech to the Knesset to welcome Brazilian president Ignacio Luis da Silva. Netanyahu did not cite the diplomatic row with the USA.
"For the past 40 years, no Israeli government ever limited construction in the neighborhoods of Jerusalem," he said in his Knesset speech. Netanyahu called on the Palestinians not to place new preconditions on the revival of the talks and added that what he called Jewish neighborhoods in and around Jerusalem would remain "part of the state of Israel" in any future peace agreement.

PLO Executive Committee member Ahmad Qrei'a held a press conference in Abu Dis on Monday partly a a reaction to Netanyahu during which he warned that a third intifada might be on its way if 'Israeli practices in East Jerusalem continue. 'If matters remain at this level, regardless of whether we take the decision or not, it [an intifada] is coming. If Israel continues these practices, it is coming.'  An intifada, he said, does not start because of one decision but rather is the result of  'oppression, injustice, aggression and tyranny.' Qrei'a, who also heads the Jerusalem affairs department in the PLO, said Israeli policy is aimed at severing Jerusalem from negotiations and fully annexing the city to Israel.

Qurei' also mentioned the rededication of a synagogue (the Hurva synagoge in the Jewish Quarter) on Tuesday, 300 meters away from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.He called it a 'dangerous program' intent on 'judaizing Jerusalem and falsify history'.Moreover, Qrei'a spoke of unprecedented aggression and provocation faced by Palestinians, citing a recent leaflet distributed by right-wing Jewish groups calling on non-Jews to leave Jerusalem, as well as rumors of an Israeli take over of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Tuesday.'  Jerusalem is exposed to an unprecedented danger which targets its land, people, holy sites, heritage and history,' Qrei'a said, adding that determining the fate of the city is paramount, without which a comprehensive solution cannot be attained.

Several Palestinians were injured, along with an Israeli soldier after witnesses reported hearing heavy gunfire at the Atara checkpoint, near Ramallah, following its closure on Monday. Later reports confirmed that dozens of Birzeit University Students students participated in a march against the Israeli attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and threw stones at soldiers. An Israeli military spokesman said Israeli forces were responding with "riot dispersal mechanisms" against Palestinians in the area. Ten students were injured including three with live bullets, medics at the Ramallah Government Hospital said. One young man was hit in the jaw, and doctors said his condition was stable, while other injuries were described as light to moderate. An Israeli spokesman said there was no live fire, though rubber coated metal bullets are considered part of the Israeli "dispersal" arsenal.
 Banners for the rededicationb of the Hurva synagogue,  fixed on stones of  the former ruins.

Personal status courts in the West Bank and Jerusalem will strike Monday and Tuesday in protest over the rededication of the Hurva Synagogue, officials announced. The ceremonies at the synagogue, 330 meters away from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, have been called a “provocation” in the wake of an Israeli raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the declaration of two Palestinian sites (the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron and the tombe of Rachel in Bethlehem) as 'Israeli heritage sites' on 21 February.

'The synagogue is not located near the Temple Mount compound,' an Israeli government news release replied to the accusations. The statement also highlighted the history of the synagogue, destroyed during the 1948 war and reconstructed in 2005. The statement did not comment on the timing of the rededication. A correction was later issued by the office, "Correction: The name of the Hurva (ruins) Synagogue was acquired in 1721 after the original, unfinished building was destroyed in a riot, not in 1948 following the Jordanian destruction.'
The Palestinian Higher Judicial Council, headed by Supreme Judge Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi, released a statement calling on 'Palestinian people everywhere, especially those who live in Jerusalem and in other cities inside Israel, ' to head to Jerusalem to protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque from Ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups,
Haaretz adds that police and border police forces will continue their special deployment, with 2,500 officers spread across the Old City, East Jerusalem and adjacent villages. Entry of Palestinians to the Mount will be limited for the fourth day in a row, with only Israeli Muslim men older than 50 and women allowed to enter the compound to pray. No visitors or tourists will be allowed.

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