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Group: Israel plans synagogue near Aqsa site

May 27, 2014 10:30 P.M. (Updated: May 27, 2014 10:30 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) – Israeli authorities plan to establish a foundation corner for a large synagogue that will be built in the middle of the Old City of Jerusalem, about 200 meters from the al-Aqsa Mosque.

The synagogue will be called “The Jewel of Israel,” according to the Al-Aqsa Foundation.

The statement said there would be celebrations in which Israeli political and religious leaders will participate including Israel's Jerusalem mayor, Nir Brakat, housing minister Uri Ariel and deputy religious services minister Eli Ben Dahan.

The foundation said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government had provided funding for construction of the synagogue with a budget of 50 million NIS set to be approved Wednesday.

“Israel plans to Judaise the entire Old City of Jerusalem and to attract Jewish and foreign tourists,” the foundations said.

It added that the building will have a space of 378 square meters, 275 of which will be used for the synagogue and 103 as a public park for the entrance of the synagogue.

The whole building space will be 1,400 square meters, it said.

The foundation, which is in charge of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, had said earlier that various Israeli nationalist organizations were calling for a march through the compound on Wednesday.

Thousands of Israeli Jews will attend, the organization said, adding that police would close roads in East Jerusalem during the march.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld tweeted: "Police complete security assessments for tomorrow's "Jerusalem day" celebrations. Hundreds of officers will be involved in security measures."

Jerusalem Day is a national holiday in Israel celebrating what Israelis call the reunification of the city. The day is marked by marches through the Old City of Jerusalem by right-wing activists.

For Palestinians and the international community, East Jerusalem is considered occupied territory.

Earlier, police escorted Jewish groups through the Al-Aqsa compound, witnesses said. Some 72 Israeli Jews entered the compound as Palestinians chanted "Allahu Akbar."

Rosenfeld tweeted: "Stones thrown at visiting group on Temple Mount by Arabs. Policeman at scene injured lightly. Visits continue regularly. Situation calm."

Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to the compound, leading to tension with Palestinian worshipers.

Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories that have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
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