Palestinian leaders have denounced new construction projects they say will further tighten Israel’s grip on occupied East Jerusalem and its holy places, including the incendiary site of Al-Aqsa mosque.
The most elaborate plan is for a cable car intended to bring thousands of visitors an hour to the Western Wall and its Jewish prayer plaza immediately below al-Haram al-Sharif, a compound containing Al-Aqsa and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock.
The $56m project was unveiled at a meeting of the Israeli cabinet in tunnels below the al-Haram al-Sharif. It is the first time the cabinet has met in Jerusalem’s Old City, which Israel annexed in violation of international law.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the meeting in the provocative location late last month to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem.
Explosion in making
Palestinians, meanwhile, have expressed mounting concern that Netanyahu’s stated intention to “strengthen Jerusalem” conceals a policy of driving out Palestinians and seizing control over the Al-Aqsa compound. Israel claims two ancient Jewish temples are built under the mosque.
At the weekend, Jibril Rajoub, a senior official in the Palestinian Authority, told Israeli TV that Netanyahu’s government had to stop treating the site as though it were under Israeli sovereignty. “If you want to create an explosion, just say ‘It’s ours, it’s ours’,” he said.
However, in the…