Structure is said to be used for Islamic activity despite Israeli closure of the Gate of Mercy in 2003.
By World Israel News Staff
The Jerusalem Magistrates Court has decided to issue a closure order against a structure set up by the Waqf Islamic Trust on the Temple Mount if the Trust does not respond to a petition submitted by the police and district attorney’s office within a week.
The structure in question is at the Gate of Mercy in the Old City.
Israeli officials accuse Islamic and Jordanian authorities of wanting to use the structure as the home of a joint Waqf-Jordanian council that would establish facts on the ground and sabotage any plans that the U.S. administration might have for the contentious area as part of President Donald Trump’s peace plan that is expected to be announced after next month’s Israeli parliamentary election.
The council seems to have started working inside the structure a few weeks ago.
Israel had closed the area of the Gate of Mercy in 2003 because it said that a Hamas-linked organization had taken control of the site and was acting against the interests of the Jewish State.
Jordan, as the country which was granted custodial rights over Muslim holy sites in the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty, recently added Palestinian members to the Islamic Trust.
The new Waqf leadership, comprising officials from Fatah, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood breached the gate about three weeks ago, and thousands of worshipers have already prayed there despite the Israeli ban.
Abdel Azem Salhab, the highest-ranking official in the Islamic authority overseeing the Temple Mount, says police handed him and two other Palestinian officials an order on Sunday preventing them from entering the area.
Jordan’s Religious Affairs Minister Abdel Nasser Abu Albasal condemned the Israeli decision as “a new escalation” meant to disrupt the council’s work.
Last week, an Israeli government official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had given instructions to enforce the court’s order to shut down the Gate of Mercy site “without compromise.”
“The political echelon won’t allow the site to become a mosque. This directive was passed on to the police and this message was delivered to certain authorities and to Jordan as well,” the official said.