Israeli Ministers Delay Destruction of Mughrabi Bridge

Decision made in light of the sensitivity of the matter and the unwillingness to exacerbate tensions in region, on day after bridge was closed for fear of collapse.

The forum of eight senior cabinet ministers decided Tuesday to delay the destruction of the Mughrabi Bridge, which leads from the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount, until further notice.

According to a senior Israeli official, the forum of eight ministers decided to carry out a series of actions to strengthen the bridge's safety level, in such a way that will allow it to be reopened to Jews and foreign tourists as early as this week.

Mughrabi bridge in Jerusalem - AP - Dec. 8, 2011

The Mughrabi Bridgewas closed Monday due to fears the bridge may collapse.

At Tuesday's debate, it was decided that, in light of the sensitivity of the matter and the unwillingness to exacerbate tensions with the Palestinians, Jordan and the Arab World as a whole, the bridge would not be destroyed at this stage. Instead, those parts deemed hazardous by the Jerusalem municipality engineer will be treated.

Last week, the Jerusalem municipality's engineer, Shlomo Eshkol, wrote a letter to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation and said he intends on ordering the "immediate closure of the structure" and "completely prohibit its use."

Jerusalem municipality officials stressed that the wooden bridge poses a severe security threat since it is highly flammable and in danger of collapsing. They warned that if a fire breaks out it could spread to the Temple Mount.

The municipality said that only a small number of security officials will be able to use the bridge, and only under urgent circumstances.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Jerusalem municipality two weeks ago to postpone the demolition of the Mughrabi Bridge, which was already due to begin.

Netanyahu's bureau had asked the municipality to postpone the work due to the sensitivity of the issue and warnings from Egypt that the action would focus protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Israel.