The Hurva rebuilt
The Hurva rebuilt Israel news photo: Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not plan to attend the historic reopening of the Hurva synagogue in Jerusalem's Old City on Monday. A senior diplomat told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew news service that the PM will absent himself in order to avoid conflict with the United States or the Palestinian Authority.

The prime minister will address crowds at the Hurva ceremony by video instead. The diplomat who spoke to Arutz Sheva would not divulge the exact content of Netanyahu's address, but hinted, “we're not sure that the nationalists are going to like what he intends to say.”An official statement from the Prime Minister's Office confirmed that Netanyahu would not attend the Old City ceremony, but said his absence would be due only to time constraints. “The Prime Minister has a very full schedule these days,” the statement said.

Netanyahu was criticized by U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden this week for allowing Israeli Jews to build homes in the Jewish neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo in Jerusalem, an area that has never had Arab residents and is located between the densely populated Jewish neighborhoods of Sanhedria and Ramot. . The PA harshly criticized Netanyahu as well, accusing him of torpedoing negotiations by allowing Jews to move into parts of the capital that the PA lays claim to.

Netanyahu apologized to Biden for the timing of the Ramat Shlomo building plans. Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin (Likud) and other MK's of Netanyahu's Likud criticized Biden's reaction, some having harsh words for Netanyahu's apology as well.

The PA considers Jerusalem's Old City to be “occupied territory” as well. While the area is historically Jewish, it was occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967, and the PA considers it Arab land. Israeli attempts to restore historic Jewish sites in the Old City, such as the Kotel tunnels during Netanyahu's first term of office, have been met with fierce Arab opposition and violent rioting.

The Hurva synagogue served as Jerusalem's main Ashkenazi synagogue for generations, until it was destroyed by the Jordanian army during the 1948 War of Independence. It will be reopened on Monday. Several senior public figures have agreed to attend the event, among them Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, Housing Minister Ariel Attias, and Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky. Click here for INN's exclusive preview film of the restored synagogue.