Citing terror, Netanyahu halts building near Western Wall

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Citing Palestinian terrorism, Israeli Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the shelving of a plan for constructing government offices near the Western wall in east Jerusalem.

The suspension Thursday of the Beit Haliba complex comes amid what Netahyahu described on Wednesday as a “wave of terror” by Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel, and especially in Jerusalem. Last week, two Israelis in their 30s, Na’ama and Eitam Henkin, were killed in an attack near the West Bank settlement of Itamar. Several Palestinians were also killed and injured in clashes with security forces.

Beit Haliba was scheduled for approval by the Interior Ministry’s District Committee for Construction and Planning in Jerusalem on Thursday, but the approval process was suspended indefinitely following a request for its removal from the agenda by the Prime Minister’s Bureau, Army Radio on Friday reported.

The request cited the desire to refrain from moves that could escalate the so-called wave of terror, the report said.

According to the plan, the Beit Haliba is to include office space for the Western Wall Heritage Foundation and several government offices, which the report on Army Radio did not specify.

On Friday, Israeli authorities restricted access to the Temple Mount area, which also contains the al-Aqsa Mosque and is called Haram al-Sharif in Arabic, to Palestinian men older than 50. Women’s access is unrestricted.

Separately, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, accused Israel of trying to cause Palestinians to act violently,

adding this will not succeed.

“We will not allow ourselves to be dragged where they want to drag us,” Abbas said at a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new building

in Ramallah, according to a translation of his speech provided by Army Radio.

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