Israel's excavation work near Jerusalem's main shrines has caused controversy in the Palestinian and Israeli press. Some see political motives beyond the restoration of a walkway leading to the al-Aqsa Mosque and Temple Mount compound.
Palestinian papers condemn what they see as an Israeli attempt to "turn Jerusalem into a Jewish city". Several Arab papers think the timing of the excavations is a deliberate attempt to take advantage of recent discord between Palestinian factions.
Some Israeli commentators wonder whether the repair work is worth the anger they say it has provoked among Muslims.
RONI SHAKED IN ISRAEL'S YEDIOT AHARONOT
Yesterday the Muslim world was united in hatred of Israel after seeing pictures of the Israeli bulldozer that turned up at Temple Mount at the foot of the golden mosque. Senior religious figures from Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt poured scorn on Israel. The bridge in the eye of the storm is a negligible bridge used by scores of people a day at the most. So why build a new bridge?
EX-MINISTER YOSSI SARID IN ISRAEL'S HA'ARETZ
Sometimes it seems that if there is a dangerous tunnel in the Temple Mount compound and it is possible to thrust our way toward it, then sooner or later that is what will happen, shaking up the most sensitive site in the world... If the works are not crucial or urgently needed to save lives, then it's best to steer clear of the compound of conflagration.
EDITORIAL IN ISRAEL'S JERUSALEM POST
Palestinian leaders, whether from Fatah or Hamas, have been keen to find an excuse to divert attention from their internal problems. So it is not surprising that many have jumped on Israel's reconstruction of an access bridge to Jerusalem's Temple Mount. Any real concerns about the salvage and building work should, and patently could, be handled appropriately and calmly, through open dialogue and constructive debate.
MAHUD AL-HABBASH IN PALESTINIAN AL-HAYAT AL-JADIDAH
What happened yesterday at al-Magharibah Gate was only a small part of a series of moves intended to turn Jerusalem into a Jewish city. So what will those meeting in Mecca do to prevent this danger threatening al-Aqsa Mosque? It's a question that will either be answered properly or answered in a way that will lead to disaster.
HANI HABIB IN PALESTINIAN AL-AYYAM
Palestinian negotiators are looking at Israel's attempts to profit from the lawlessness in the Palestinian security situation by trying to demolish the hill near al-Magharibah Gate outside al-Aqsa Mosque. We say to these negotiators that they need to reach an agreement because this is the best way to fight the attempts to turn Jerusalem into a Jewish city.
EDITORIAL IN PAN-ARAB AL-QUDS AL-ARABI
The Israelis know how weak the Arab government is and they have therefore chosen the perfect time to start the excavations. This time they are working with great gusto in the hope that they will discover Solomon's Temple, allegedly buried beneath al-Aqsa Mosque. We were hoping, like millions of Arabs and Muslims, that Arab states like Morocco, Egypt and Jordan, which maintain diplomatic ties with the Jewish state, will withdraw their envoys and close their embassies unless Israel stops the excavations immediately.
EDITORIAL IN EGYPT'S AL-JUMHURIYAH
Israel is crossing all the red lines in its aggressive moves on the al-Aqsa Mosque in order to implement a scheme of Judaisation which has been internationally condemned. This is a provocation of the sentiments of millions of Palestinian Arabs and Muslims who will defend their sacred sites till the last breath.
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