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US backs Israel on synagogue amid alleged rows
03-16-2010, 08:45 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-16-2010, 08:46 AM by TriWooOx.)
US backs Israel on synagogue amid alleged rows
Quote:Israel has reopened a synagogue in East Jerusalem (al-Quds) in a move backed by the US, igniting angry protests by Palestinians in the holy city and elsewhere in the West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took pride in the reopening of the Hurva synagogue, around 700 meters from the al-Aqsa Mosque in al-Qud's Old City, as part of Israel's "heritage."

"We permit believers of other faiths to conserve their places of worship. We proudly protect our heritage, while at the same time allowing others freedom of religion," he said in a video message.

But Palestinians both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip joined to condemn the move which came amid highly stepped up security and the deployment of thousands of Israeli soldiers in Muslims' third holy city of al-Quds.

Head of al-Quds international institution, Dr. Ahmed Abu Halabiya, warned the reopening of Hurva synagogue in al-Quds was part of an Israeli plan "to build a Jewish temple on al-Aqsa ruins."

Head of the Hamas political bureau Khaled Meshaal slammed Tel Aviv's "falsification of history," saying, "Israel is playing with fire and touching off the first spark to make the region explode."

Hatem Abdel Qader, the Palestinian Authority's official in charge of al-Quds affairs, expressed concern over what he described as "not just a synagogue."

"This synagogue will be a prelude to violence, extremism and religious fanaticism, and that will not be limited to extremist Jews but includes members of the Israeli government," he warned.

"We warn against this action by the Zionist enemy to rebuild and dedicate the Hurva synagogue. It signifies the destruction of the al-Aqsa mosque and the building of the temple."

The US State Department, however, criticized Palestinian comments for "mischaracterizing the event in question, which can only serve to heighten the tensions we see."

Monday's reopening ceremony, which Netanyahu said symbolized religious coexistence, came while Palestinian men under the age of 50 along with non-Muslims were barred from entering the al-Aqsa Mosque compound for a fourth day following clashes between the police and Palestinians.

Hamas on Tuesday announced a "day of rage" in response to the dedication of the restored synagogue in East al-Quds, promoting a red alert warning from Israeli officials who deployed some 3,000 troops in the area.

The US support for the controversial reopening of the synagogue raises serious questions over a purported dispute between Tel Aviv and Washington over the continued Israeli settlement construction.

Some analysts argue that the ostensible tensions are to provide a cover for Israel's encroach upon Palestinian and Islamic identity of East al-Quds, long demanded by Palestinians as the capital city of their future Palestinian state.
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