Group Delegitimizes Jewish Religious Freedom Following Mugrabi Bridge Closure

JERUSALEM – Following the temporary closure of the Mugrabi Bridge connecting the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) issued an inflammatory statement inferring that Jewish sovereignty over its own holy sites, including the Western Wall Plaza, is a war crime, notes Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor.

Israel closed the bridge on December 13 (it was reopened Dec. 14) due to safety concerns, yet PCHR claimed the fears of the bridge’s collapse and potential to catch fire were a “pretext,” and that the closure was a prelude to “chang[e] the features of the area.”

“PCHR’s demonizing language, such as referring to the ‘Israel Occupation Authorities,’ and the assertion that the bridge’s closure is for political goals, demonstrates PCHR’s hateful, extreme political agenda,” says Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor. “The group openly denies the Jewish historical connection to Jerusalem and delegitimizes religious freedom for Jews.  If PCHR cared about freedoms surrounding the Western Wall area, it would have noted that there are 14 Muslim-only entrances to the Temple Mount that remain open. This bridge is the one entrance for Christians and Jews, who, despite the religious significance of the area for these groups, are barred by the Waqf from openly praying on the Temple Mount. PCHR is clearly not concerned with freedom of worship for all religions.”

Steinberg adds, “PCHR’s statement on this and other issues consistently include gross distortions of international law. This is not a human rights group; rather, it is a group that inflames the Arab-Israeli conflict and makes peace based on mutual understanding more difficult to achieve. We call on the following governments to immediately end funding to PCHR: European Union (three year grant began in 2010 for €964,680), Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, and the Netherlands.”