No Water Under Jerusalem's Mughrabi Bridge

(International Herald Tribune) Shmuel Rosner - In most well-managed cities, when a bridge is said to be putting the public at risk, it is closed without controversy until it can be made safe again. Not so in Jerusalem. Last Sunday, the Mughrabi bridge that ascends from the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest place of worship, up to the Temple Mount was sealed off for two days following an order by the city engineer who declared it unsound. The bridge was built seven years ago as a temporary substitute for the walkway that was destroyed by a winter storm in 2004. Muslims could still enter the compound through any of the other gates available to them, and they could still pray at the mosques. Yet it was they who were most outraged by the announcement that the bridge had become impassable. The Waqf, the religious-political body in charge of managing the Muslim sites at the Temple Mount, wants veto power over every decision concerning the area. Over recent months, Egyptian and Jordanian officials have warned Israel not to replace the bridge. When an Israeli cabinet secretary went to Amman in mid-November to finalize the terms of a UNESCO-mediated deal, the Jordanians backtracked. Why sign a deal and risk the indignation of Jordanian radicals? The reason this seemingly simple problem became so fraught is that it was never really about the bridge. All along the story was about the attempt of some Muslim leaders to deny Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.

2011-12-20 00:00:00

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