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Report: Illegal Mosque Under Construction on Mount of Olives

Police and Jerusalem Municipal authorities have turned a blind eye to the rapid illegal construction of a mosque on the Mount of Olives.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 11/21/2011, 7:45 PM

Illegal Mosque Construction
Illegal Mosque Construction
Flash 90

Arabs are building an illegal mosque on the Mount of Olives adjacent to the graves of late Prime Minister Menachem Begin and modern Hebrew rejuvenator Eliezer Ben Yehuda.

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Land of Israel Foundation chairman Aryeh King said the struggle to stop the mosque's construction has yet to bear fruit and that official responses have been filled with platitudes and untruths.

King said in recent days it has been established the area the mosque is being built in is clearly designated as a part of the cemetery itself on land some 200 meters into undisputed Israeli territory.

"The city places the blame on the police and the police lay blame on the municipality – while the criminals are celebrating and we are ashamed to exercise our sovereignty," King said.

Instead, King says he received a letter from an attorney for the Israel police asserting there are no grounds for action against construction at the site because the only work being done is the renovation of the lavatory and moving a sink.

Aerial photographs recently published by King, however, shows construction on land that - until 18 months ago - was occupied by fruit-bearing olive trees. King noted, in addition to the failure to obtain a permit for such work, that the uprooting of trees for the purpose of construction is illegal.

"The Israeli government is allowing it to happen," King said. "The Minister did not lift a finger. We were not able to convince them the importance of place , and thus we failed," King said - emphasizing government inaction came despite the Mosque's close promity to Begin and Ben-Yehuda's graves.

King said, "There is no way to explain this reality except for the fact that the District [Police] Commander is afraid of upsetting the Arabs. There is no other explanation for a document filled with lies.

"Even when he was police chief in the Old City he allowed Arabs to bury their dead in the compound, which is defined as a national park - right in the Old City itself. How can police produce a fallacious document when there are clear violations happening right under their nose - the use of heavy equipment - which can be clearly seen from the Temple Mount?"

King said rabbis he lobbied for support were reluctant to pressure the authorities. King also said Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat had not issued a demolition or stop work order at the Mosque site.

"We need to rouse the public to action," King said.