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Nablus village 'refuses Israeli decision to curtail mosque'

Feb. 14, 2012 10:21 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 16, 2012 9:38 A.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Israel's Supreme Court has ruled that a Nablus-district Palestinian village remove speakers and lights from its minaret in order to placate Israeli settlers living nearby, village residents said on Tuesday.

Village Council head Ali Eid said Burin would refuse the court ruling, which was received by the village on Monday. He added that the village is waiting for instructions from the Nablus governor who is following up on the case.

The Suleiman Al-Farsi mosque was built on a 300 square-meter plot in Burin in 2009, but Israeli authorities claim it lies partly in Area C, where Israel has full civil and security control under the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Burin is encircled by Jewish-only settlements and settler outposts, which have confiscated 12,000 out of 32,000 dunams of Palestinian villagers' land, Eid said.

Sheikh Salim Al-Ashqar, head of Nablus Waqf (Islamic endowments), told Ma'an that the Palestinian Waqf authorities would not accept the decision and would continue to fight it through legal means.

Palestinians will remain steadfast to their holy places despite Israeli settler attacks against them, he said.

The PA Waqf and Religious Affairs minister Mahmoud Habbash on Tuesday called the ruling "one more provocative step in Israel's crimes against the religious places."

There is no safe place to pray because of Israel's racist policies against Palestinian Muslim and Christian sites, he said, adding that the PA will use all legal means to undo the decision.

The Palestinian people and government are the owner of religious sites in Palestine and Israeli decisions do not amount to anything, he added.

Israel's violation of international laws of freedom of religious expression are evidence of malice, the minister said.

Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Hussein warned the ruling could lead to religious war, and called on the international community to intervene.

The Sheik said in a statement that while Israel calls for democracy around the world it bans Palestinians from hearing prayers in their own village in contravention of international conventions on religious freedom.

Meanwhile, a Fatah official also warned on Tuesday that the Israeli parliament was discussing the installation of an access ramp for people with disabilities into the Israeli-controlled section of Hebron's Ibrahimi mosque.

Fatah revolutionary council member Dimitry Deliany said the proposed works could threaten the Muslim place of worship. The site, believed to be the burial place of Abraham and his family, is revered by Jews and Muslims and is split into a synagogue and mosque.

Deliany called for UNESCO, which Palestine joined last year, to ensure the sanctity of the site.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahusparked outrage in 2010 when he said the mosque would be added to Israel's national monuments.

Palestinians warned the unilateral appropriation of jointly-revered sites risked provoking a "holy war", and the announcement led to international criticism and street clashes in Hebron.
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