Jerusalem Mayor Halts Temple Mount Gate Work

Jerusalem Mayor Lupolianski was assailed for suspending construction at the Temple Mount's Rambam (Mughrabi) Gate, in the face of Muslim incitement. The archaeological dig in the area will continue.

Hillel Fendel and Nissan Ratzlav-Katz, | updated: 09:10

Mayor Uri Lupolianski announced Sunday night that completion of the overhead walkway will be postponed to allow opponents - i.e., Arabs - to file formal objections to the construction work. To that end, the city planning committee will provide a complete and organized urban construction plan for the bridge and environs.

Mayor Lupolianski reached his decision to suspend bridge construction in coordination with Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Places. The two consulted Muslim religious leaders and Arab residents of Jerusalem to hear their views on the new Rambam Gate bridge. The mayor said he also conferred with Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, the planning authorities of the Jerusalem Municipality and the city engineer in making his decision.

Though the suspension of the work will have no immediate practical effect, as the preparatory archaelogical excavations will continue in any event for the next eight months, the mayor's widely-publicized decision was widely seen as a cave-in to Arab violence, threats and incitement.

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) blasted the mayor's decision. Speaking on Voice of Israel Radio, he said, "This country is simply a country of surrender, and at this rate, I don't know where we will be in 5-10 years." Asked if possibly Israel should not have started the Rambam Gate work, Eldad responded sarcastically, "Perhaps we never should have returned to this land in the first place! But we did, because we know it is our land, and it is not the Arabs', and the same is true with Jerusalem."

Rabbi Daniel Shilo, spokesman for the Yesha Rabbis Council, told Arutz-7's Kobi Finkler that today's decision is "just another in a series of surrenders that strengthen the Arab lies that Jerusalem does not belong to the Jews. It began when Moshe Dayan gave the Waqf control of the Temple Mount after the Six Day War, and continues today."

Finkler then quoted Rabbi Rabinovitch to the effect that the decision was merely a way to allow the Arab citizens to comment on a new urban construction project. "If it would have been done that way from the beginning," Rabbi Shilo said, "then it would have been acceptable and normal. But it's clear that it was merely done in surrender to Arab pressure and terror, and this merely strengthens their resolve and their brazenness and their murderous tendencies regarding our presence in Israel."

Asked if he can understand the mayor, who is also a religious man, Rabbi Shilo said, "The mayor is apparently of the school of thought that says that we must anger the goyim as little as possible, and that we must live only inasmuch as they allow us. But we are in the Land of Israel and the State of Israel, and the time has come to fulfill that which the [Zionists] always said, that we must no longer be Diaspora-oriented, but to walk upright in our Land."

The publication of the bridge plans and the opportunity given to residents to file formal complaints is intended to combat the rumors promoted by Islamic leaders that the construction is part of an "assault on Al-Aksa mosque." Such false reports have led to violence inside Jerusalem, attacks on Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall, and condemnations of Israel throughout the Muslim world.

The Israeli Antiquities Authority, which is conducting a dig accompanying the bridge construction, will not halt its work. The dig, required by law at any major construction in the ancient city of Jerusalem, is meant to uncover and salvage any antiquities that may otherwise have been covered or destroyed by the construction work.

Lupolianski has taken a similar stance before. In July 2003, shortly after being elected, he condemned the decision to reopen the Temple Mount to Jewish and Christian visitors. In a startling statement, he even likened the idea to one who urinates in public. Speaking with the weekly Kol Ha'ir newspaper, Lupolianski said, "There are many things that are allowed, but someone smart does not do them. L'havdil [To differentiate], someone must relieve himself, that is human; but if he does so next to the Mashbir [department store], you will say he is a hooligan, right?... There are things that it is clear that are right to do, but not at every place, at every hour, in every situation."

Lupolianski further explained, at the time, that the Temple Mount belongs to the Jewish people, "but with the sensitivities that exist in the Muslim world, it is not right to change the situation." A spokesman for the mayor, asked about his comments, did not deny that Lupolianski had made the urination comparison.

Mayor Lupolianski can be emailed at "mayor@jerusalem.muni.il".

[Photo credit: Honest Reporting]



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