The sad saga of the Mughrabi Bridge continues – and this time it is to the detriment of the Israeli and Jewish public. As I posted earlier, Jerusalem’s City Council, on the advice of health and safety officials, decided that the Mughrabi Bridge must be dismantled and a new, permanent structure erected. The new bridge was planned in consultation with the Muslim authorities and Jordan, who still retains official supervision over the Temple Mount. Jordan reneged on its agreement with Israel and complained to UNESCO about the new bridge, thereby triggering UNESCO’s notorious anti-Israel bias and its demand that Israel cease and desist.
Jordan further advised Israel to stop the building in case it inflames religious passions – as if these are not inflamed by Muslims every day of the week that has “day” in its name. In the face of this “advice” – which I would call extortion – PM Bibi Netanyahu capitulated and issued a stop-work order on the bridge.
Of course this didn’t solve the problem of the rickety bridge, and earlier this week, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat ordered the closure of the bridge altogether, thereby preventing non-Muslims from ascending to the Temple Mount since the Mughrabi Bridge is the only access to the holy area for non-Muslims.
Predictably, this decision upset the right-wing in the Knesset:
The closure, which came earlier than expected, touched off a stormy reaction in the Knesset and among right-wing activists.
“Israel doesn’t know how to express its own independence in its own capital,” said Yehudah Glick, the founder and chairman of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, which advocates for Jewish access to the site. He said that in the past, when construction caused the closure of the Mugrabi Gate, non-Muslim tourists and pilgrims were allowed to use the Chain Gate, one of the 12 entrances to the Temple Mount. Similar access was not granted on Sunday.
Tourists were also very upset at the closure:
“The bridge should be open to everyone, not just Muslim,” Wayne, a German tourist who is visiting Israel for the fourth time, told Ynet. “This is an unfortunate decision. It’s a lovely place to visit but unfortunately we can’t go there. There’s much to see in Israel, but Temple Mount is one of our favorite places.”
The police too were furious, saying that the closure might incite to violence. But is there a time when any Israeli action does NOT incite the Muslims to violence?
And now our brilliant Prime Minister, whom I usually respect and admire, has come up with the mother of all Chelm*-worthy ideas: Let’s coat the bridge with anti-flammable material and station a fire truck near the bridge. No, it is not Purim today.
Jerusalem municipality fuming over prime minister’s decision to repair walkway instead of building new one. ‘Government’s helplessness in dealing with this hazardous, dilapidated nuisance is regrettable,’ read statement issued by mayor
Officials at the Jerusalem Municipality, who were in favor of demolishing the bridge and building a new one in its place, were not happy with Netanyahu’s decision. Mayor Nir Barkat expressed concern that “Netanyahu’s conduct will delay the completion of a new bridge and will prevent the restoration of the status quo, which was violated by its closure.
“A correct process of decision making would have produced the right solution of placing a permanent and safe walkway in place of the old one,” the statement read.
The mayor and his colleagues were much too polite and much too reticent. This decision is a capitulation to to Muslim extortion. The bridge is in any event ugly and unsound, and removes about a third of the women’s prayer area at the Kotel.
This decision does not negate the need for its renovation, as described in my above link:
Tour guide Madeline Lavine told The Jerusalem Post in October that she refused to bring tourists up the bridge ever since heavy traffic had caused it to sway beneath her feet while she was accompanying a large group.
Whatever happened to Israel’s much-touted sovereignty over a United Jerusalem?
*Chelm is a mythical Jewish town somewhere in Europe populated by “wise” village idiots. The amusing stories of their antics entertained us throughout our childhood.