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Daily Israel Report

Tension over Mosque Repairs, Synagogue Demolition

PA Arabs angered by call to save synagogue, accuse Jews of seeking the demolition of a nearby mosque.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 10/3/2010, 10:11 PM / Last Update: 10/3/2010, 10:35 PM

Israel news photo

Palestinian Authority Arabs were angered Sunday by a flier calling to save a synagogue in the Samaria Jewish town of El-Matan. The synagogue is facing the threat of being sealed off after the holidays. PA media outlets, including Maan and Wafa, accused those who wrote the flier of seeking the demolition of a nearby mosque.

“The settlers are trying to ignite a religious war in Shechem,” Wafa accused.

The accusations stemmed from side-by-side pictures of the synagogue in El-Matan next to a mosque near the PA town of Burin. The photos were accompanied by the caption, “The right-wing government is destroying a synagogue. This is how they ingratiate themselvse to Abu-Mazen [PA Chairman Abbas - ed.]: a synagogue is destroyed, while a mosque gets repair work.”

The flier called for a rally on Monday, October 4, opposite the Burin mosque at which demonstrators will call on the government not to block access to the El-Matan synagogue.

Nationalists have compared the El-Matan synagogue to the Burin mosque because neither structure has government approval. However, the El-Matan synagogue was built in the center of a community which had received government approval, and lacks only the signature of Defense Minister Ehud Barak to make it legal, while the Burin mosque was built outside a PA town on Israeli state land just 250 meters from the Jewish town of Yitzhar. Residents of Yitzhar have expressed concern over the building, which includes a tower that they say could be used to overlook the town and monitor their activities.

The battle over the fate of the synagogue and the mosque began with a suit filed by the extreme-left organization Yesh Din, which called to destroy the synagogue over its lack of a permit. The nationalist NGO group Regavim filed a counter-suit calling to demolish two mosques built by PA Arabs on the same grounds.