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Palestinian official: Museum of Tolerance being built on the bodies of the dead.

Jerusalem / Maisa Abu Ghazaleh -- After months of court cases and appeals in an attempt to stop the project, the Israelis are going ahead with building a "Museum of Tolerance" on the grounds of an Islamic cemetery.Twelve percent of the land being overtaken for streets and parking lots will go to building the museum which is being funded by American interests. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's Advisor on Jerusalem Affairs is among those demanding action to stop the building on the bodies of the dead. The Israeli court rejected the final appeal by claiming there was no legitimate authority for the cemetery and was being confiscated under the Israeli law of "absentee landlords."The Al Aqsa Foundation for the Preservation of Islamic Heritage held an emergency press conference Thursday morning to discuss the repercussions of the Israeli plan. Head of the Islamic Movement inside the Green Line, Sheikh Ra'ed Salah, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Jerusalem Affaris, Haten Abdel Qader, and Greek Orthodox Bishop Atallah Hanna all spoke.Sheikh Salah said that the Israel's decision to resume work in the cemetery is an announcement of "global religious war" on Islam. "I am not exaggerating with this description," Sheikh Salah said. "What is coming in the name of Israeli law is a terrorist attack."The cemetery with 4,000 graves is 200 dunams square. It was fully in use until 1948. Sheikh Salah said, "All of the religious value of the cemetery did not prevent the Israeli establishment to continue committing war crimes since the early forties to this day."Israeli developers are including a large hotel on part of cemetery in addition to more streets and a parking lot. The Israeli justifications that have been used to pass this resolution include that the Islamic sharia courts do not have the power to intervene to protect the holy sites. During court hearings a number of Muslim scholars provided a range of contemporary opinions confirming the sanctity of the Muslim cemetery.The 200 million USD in funding for the Israeli construction on the Islamic cemetery is coming through the state of California and a private US company.Fayyad's advisor Hatem Abdel Qader said that the Israeli Supreme Court is committing a crime. "This new crime is unprecedented by the Israeli occupation. This is the ethnic cleansing of the holy city embodied, excavating the dead and this racist decision to establish the so-called 'Museum of Tolerance,' building it on the bodies of the dead and graves that are thousands of years old."Bishop Atallah Hanna said that Muslims and Christians are "in the same boat." He appealed for human rights and justice organizations to take a clear position to help the Palestinian people."This is an attack on civilized people. It is a moral assault. This is the true face of the occupation," the Bishop said Thursday.He also made note of yesterday's incident in which Israeli settlers attempted to attack the Church of the Holy Sepulcher but were prevented by Monks. The settlers did succeed in vandalizing a number of shops next to the Church where Jesus died which "shows the hatred and racism against us as Arabs, Muslims and Christians."

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Publication:Palestine News Network (West Bank, Palestine)
Date:Oct 30, 2008
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