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French Version

Jordan denies Al-Aqsa walls in danger of collapse

Jordan denied on Sunday Israeli allegations that 16th-century walls surrounding Jerusalem's Old City, including the southern and eastern walls of the famed Al-Aqsa mosque, are in danger of collapse.

"This is not true," Religious Affairs Minister Abdel-Salam Abbadi, who heads a Jordanian committee responsible for the maintenance of the mosque compound, told state-run Petra news agency. "This is a pretext to intervene in Al-Aqsa mosque," Abbadi said.

Israeli daily Maariv said on Friday an engineering survey conducted by the Israeli Antiquities Authority showed 380 meters, or one-tenth of the Old City walls of Jerusalem are in immediate danger of collapse.

Another 29 sections of the wall, extending a total of 1,280 meters, are also in danger of collapse, but the threat is not imminent, the report said.

The area in most need of work is the section which flanks the southern supporting wall of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam, the report said.

The site also houses the ruins of the ancient Jewish temple, the most sacred spot in Judaism, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

"The southern and eastern wall of Al-Aqsa mosque have been restored last year in line with the latest technology and they are in excellent condition," Abbadi said.

The Jordanian committee responsible for maintenance at the mosque compound "rejects any intervention on the part of the Israeli authorities," he added.

Israeli authorities have called attention to a bulge in the southern supporting wall of the mosque compound, provoking tensions between the Jewish and Muslim communities.

Last year, Jordanian experts found no reason for concern.

Israel captured Arab east Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967 but Amman maintains it has jurisdiction over Muslim shrines in the city in line with its peace treaty with Israel.

Amman,21November2005
Redaction
The Daily Star


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