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The Mugrabi Gate
Of all of the gates providing access to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, the Mugrabi Gate is both unique and the most sensitive. The keys of the other gates remain in the hands of the Waqf, the Islamic administrative authority responsible for the Haram al-Sharif and access to the Temple Mount/Haram compound. However, since 1967 the direct control over the Mugrabi Gate has remained with the Israeli authorities. It is via the Mugrabi Gate that the periodic and often tense and controversial visits by Jews to the complex take place; it is also the primary route of access to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif for Israeli security forces when disturbances erupt.
In December 2007 following the Annapolis Summit, the Israeli government decided to renew excavations beneath the Mugrabi Gate, to allow building of a new bridge on the site. On 17.1.08, District Committee approved the Jerusalem Municipality's new plan for restoration of the Mugrabi Gate. The plan includes enlarging the women's section of the Western Wall to include the space under the ramp, where there are archeological remains from various periods. Both aspects of the plan are likely to bring about massive public dissent.
On July 2008 the Jerusalem's Planning and Construction Committee accepted Ir Amim's main objections to the Mugrabi Gate plan. The committee accepted our demands that archeological remains from the later periods - including Mugrabi quarter remains - be preserved, and that utilization of the space under the bridge for prayer must be prohibited. The committee also accepted our recommendation that the bridge design follow the original plan.
It seems that the timing of the decision to renew excavations – directly following the Annapolis Summit – was not coincidental. The issue of construction of the ramp at the Mugrabi Gate is not purely archeological. The real question concerns whether sovereignty over the Temple Mount and adjacent areas lies in the hands of Israel or the Waqf. This is no matter for one-sided creation of facts, but rather requires that Israel act with great sensitivity and caution, in order to allow a fair and open atmosphere for negotiations.