Press Release: Construction of New Temporary Ramp beside Mughrabi Ramp

In recent weeks, Israeli authorities started to build a new temporary ramp next to the existing one. As seen in the following images, it appears that the new ramp is meant to connect to the existing ramp.

As we reported previously, from June 2012 the Israeli Antiquities Authority has been carrying out a salvage excavation under the Mughrabi ramp in Jerusalem’s Old City. The excavations are a preliminary stage intended to prepare the area for the construction of new permanent ramp at the Western Wall. As mentioned, since the collapse of the Mughrabi Ramp in 2004, Israel has been in contact with Jordan and the Muslim Waqf regarding the construction of a new ramp. Meanwhile, a temporary wooden ramp leads non-Muslims visitors to the Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif.

The construction of a new permanent ramp is a very delicate political issue: Israel claims responsibility for the ramp because it is not part of the Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif compound. However, the Muslim Waqf and Jordan argue that the ramp is designed to lead to the Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif, and therefore it needs to be built in full compliance with them. In addition, the ramp is adjacent to the Western Wall and all construction on the site is seen as a violation of the status quo of the holy places in the Old City.

Currently, the purpose of the new temporary ramp is not clear. Today the old Mughrabi Ramp straddles the women’s prayer area at the Western Wall. One possibility is that the old ramp will be dismantled, and the route of the new ramp will enable the expansion of the women’s prayer area to the south (see attached image). Another option is that the new temporary ramp, and removal of the existing one, will allow an archaeological excavation and development in the opened-up area.

Even if the construction is temporary—and clearly the work has not gone unnoticed by members of the Muslim Waqf–there is concern that the construction of the ramp will intensify the political and religious tensions in Jerusalem and in the region.

Photos of the new temporary ramp (light wooden track in foreground) with old temporary ramp in dark wood to the left:

mughrabi1   mughrabi2

View of old Mughrabi Ramp and women’s prayer area at the Western Wall plaza:


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