Jerusalem ‘surrenders’ to Arab pressure over illegal ‘mini Al-Aqsa’

Fearing backlash, the Jerusalem municipality rescinds demolition order for illegal mosque expansion; Zionist NGOs slam compromise.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

The Jerusalem municipality folded to pressure from the Arab community and rescinded a demolition order for an illegally built portion of a mosque in the city, Hebrew-language media reported on Monday.

In 2021, an eye-catching golden dome and an additional floor were added to the Al-Rahman Mosque in the Beit Safafa neighborhood several years ago without the proper permitting or safety inspections required for all construction projects in Jerusalem.

Several Zionist NGOs, including Your Jerusalem and Im Tirtzu, raised concerns over both the mosque’s potential safety hazards and the implications for Israeli sovereignty in the city posed by illegal Arab construction and lack of enforcement.

The NGOs petitioned the city for a demolition order to remove that portion of the mosque, and the city originally agreed. But due to intense pressure from the Arab community and after negotiations with the mosque’s caretakers, the city backed down from the demolition plan.

Instead, the dome, which was dubbed “mini Al-Aqsa” due to its golden tint, was repainted gray.

The height of the dome was also be reduced by one meter (approximately three feet), according to Hebrew-language media reports about the agreement between the city and the mosque.

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But for right-wing activist groups, the move represents a concession with serious implications for Israeli sovereignty in the capital city.

“We condemn the compromise that was reached with the criminals from Beit Safafa, that following our protest it was agreed that they would paint the illegal golden dome gray,” the Your Jerusalm and Im Tirtzu organizations said in a blistering statement, slamming the Jerusalem municipality.

“An illegal structure that is erected to symbolize the absolute opposition to the existence of the State of Israel should have been painted blue and thrown into the sea. Anything else is just surrender.”

“The capitulation of the municipality to another illegally built structure in the Arab sector of the city is symptomatic of a policy of lack of enforcement, turning a blind eye and inequitable standards between Jews and Arabs,” Chaim Silberstein, Founder and Chairman of sovereignty-focused NGO Keep Jerusalem, told World Israel News.

“There are over 30,000 illegally built structures in the Arab sector whose impact is felt far beyond real estate – it encourages crime, attacks Israel’s sovereignty and prevents orderly urban development,” he added.

“The city, together with the government, must implement a policy of strict enforcement and equal standards or we will cross the line that we already are so close to: complete urban anarchy.”