Palestinian director at Masjid Al-Aqsa, Dr. Najeh Bakirat, has made an international plea for assistance at the holy site against escalating Israeli policies aimed at creating a 'new' history for the Old City. In the past few months, Arab street names have been replaced with Hebrew names, a historic 600 year old building dating back to the Ottoman era was demolished and trespasses on the Al-Aqsa and attack of worshippers has increased.
The latest demolitions in East Jerusalem's Old City have caused a great deal of concern and Palestinians state that this is evidence of the ongoing drive to 'Judaise' Jerusalem and wipe out its 14 centuries of Palestinian Muslim and Christian heritage. A four-storey high building covering 900 square meters is planned for the site immediately outside Masjid Al-Aqsa Masjid, where previously a 600 year old Palestinian building stood. In a project called 'Strauss', a new Jewish-only building including apolice station and a Rabbi visitors centre will be built, and access to the tunnels Israel has dug under the Masjid Al-Aqsa will be concealed within it.
Such demolitions and construction projects undermine peace efforts as they exemplify Israel's true intent in East Jerusalem, which is part of the occupied Palestinian territories and which Palestinians expect will be their capital city upon negotiation of a two-state solution. Israeli actions however suggest that they will never hand the city back to its rightful people, thus undermining peace efforts.
Jordanian Ministers have condemned the Israeli project outside the Al-Aqsa, including plans reported in the media for an expansion of the Jewish prayer area outside the Western Walls. They point out that Israel's unilateral actions in the area breach international laws.
Friends of Al-Aqsa