Permit Issued for Mughrabi Ramp
On March 3, the Jerusalem Municipality issued a permit enabling the commencement of construction on the new Mughrabi Gate ramp, leading from the Western Wall plaza to the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif. This approval permit could not have been issued without the approval of the Prime Minister, whose office is directly involved in the handling of the project. The plan for the new gate has been the source of controversy since 2005, when discussions began on how to proceed at the site, following the collapse of the existing ramp (as the result of torrential rains). Previous Israeli plans for the site, which envisioned a massive expansion of the ramp, provoked outrage in the Arab/Muslim world, protests by Palestinians, and international rebukes, and contributed to the most serious deterioration in Israel-Jordan relations since the signing of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty. While the current plan is much improved, it is still opposed by Jordan (which under the peace treaty has a recognized role in East Jerusalem); absent improved relations and coordination, it is unlikely that any plan will be mutually acceptable. With the latest approval, construction on the project can theoretically start at any time. However, in practice, construction cannot begin without approval of Prime Minister Netanyahu. Background on the controversy over the project is available here.