As part of its passenger services improvement program, said Ophir, a 20-square meter room for Muslim religious services will be built in Terminal 3, the main terminal at the airport.

Facilities for washing hands and feet prior to entering the small mosque will be provided outside the room.

“The initiative to set up the prayer room is an additional element in the efforts IAA is making in order to strengthen ties with the Arab sector,” said Ophir. He added that the new addition came in response to passenger requests that the IAA set up a Muslim prayer room.

The mosque will face the direction of Mecca, the Saudi Arabian city which serves as the capital of Islam. It will also be carpeted, and will contain copies of the Koran for use by worshippers.

Other Arabic-language passenger services recently initiated by the IAA include a new informational website as well as a special team assigned to provide Arabic-language customer support.

Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) Knesset member Esterina Tratman expressed dismay at the project, calling it “self-destructive” and declaring that it “damages the symbols of Israel as a Jewish State.”

Tratman characterized the plan as part of a policy “to prove that we are part of the family of liberals, but at a heavy price. We honor every religion … but do the United States, France and Spain also have mosques in their airports?” she asked.

In fact, a group of Muslim clerics asked airport officials in a Midwestern city in the U.S. to set aside a private area in which they could pray.

The request followed an incident in which six Muslic clerics were removed from a US Airways flight in late November after the other passengers grew nervous watching them carry out their daily devotions in a public area of the bustling airport.

Most U.S. airports provide a non-sectarian meditation or “quiet” room in which worshippers can pray.