Palestinians Against Sharansky’s Kosel Plan

YERUSHALAYIM -

Chareidim aren’t the only ones opposed to Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky’s plan that calls for changes to the Kosel area. The Palestinian Authority, albeit for very different reasons, has raised its objection to the proposal, which Sharansky has made in an effort to appease the Women of the Wall and their supporters.

PA Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud El Habash told The Jerusalem Post in Ramallah Thursday morning that the Palestinians are against changing the entrance to Har Habayis in order to facilitate the building of an egalitarian prayer area near the Kosel.

At issue is a proposal by Sharansky for the construction of an addition to the Kosel plaza at the southern end, equal in size and height to the northern prayer area, for egalitarian services, and accessible as part of one unified Kosel complex with a single entrance.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has instructed Sharansky to consult with National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror about related issues such as how to handle relocation of the Mugrabi Bridge.

Habash protested that such plans clash with their worldview, which considers the Kosel an Islamic holy site, al-Buraq.

“Any changes in Haram a-Sharif [Temple Mount] is unacceptable to the Palestinian and Arab side,” Habash said. “It’s a change of our heritage site and I believe such changes may push all of us to new conflicts and problems.”

Habash, a former Hamas member who professes support for two states for two peoples, said any change in the status quo regarding the area must wait until a final status agreement between Israel and the PA.