Abbas Concerned ‘Heritage Sites’ Dispute Will Cause Religious War; Hamas Calls For 3rd Intifada

February 24, 2010 1:35 PM IMEMC & Agencies Holy sites, News Report, West Bank 0
24 Feb
1:35 PM

During a speech made to the Belgian Parliament in Brussels, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed his concern that the listing of the Ibrahimi Mosque and the Mosque of Bilal as Jewish heritage sites may provide the spark to begin a ‘war of religions.’

OSCAILTIMAGE(attachments/feb2010/president_mahmoud_abbas__photo_by_imemcs_ghassan_bannoura_2008.jpg 300 0)

President Mahmoud Abbas – Photo by IMEMC’s Ghassan Bannoura 2008



During a speech made to the Belgian Parliament in Brussels, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed his concern that the listing of the Ibrahimi Mosque and the Mosque of Bilal as Jewish heritage sites may provide the spark to begin a ‘war of religions.’

Abbas added that this was a ‘severe provocation.’

Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh, one of the two disputed Palestinian Prime Ministers, has stated that these actions are an extension of Israel’s policy of annexing Palestinian land, and called for Palestinians in the West Bank to begin a 3rd intifada.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the two sites would be added to Israel’s list of Jewish heritage sites, with plans to renovate and promote them.

This announcement sparked protest in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, where the Ibrahimi Mosque is located, on Monday, which led to clashes between residents and the Israeli militaryleading to the injury of one Palestinian youth, and Palestinian MP Mustafa Barghouti in the ensuing fracas. In the central West Bank city of Bethlehem and its surrounding areas, a general strike was called on Tuesday.

The Ibrahimi mosque is also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs, and is divided into two sections with separate entrances; one for Muslims, and one for Jews. To enter the site Palestinians must pass through a military checkpoint in the old city, and then be subjugated to further searches by the Israeli military at another checkpoint at the entrance to the mosque. It comes only a further 15 feet, or so, from the previous check.

The Mosque of Bilal, also known as Rachel’s Tomb, was on the outskirts of the city of Bethlehem prior to the construction of Israel’s annexation wall, and can now only be accessed by Palestinians living in the West Bank by first passing through a check point to the other side of the wall, assuming that they have permission to pass from the State of Israel. They must then take a bus or taxi to the site. Access is guarded by another military checkpoint, and entrance to the area by foot is not permitted.

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