Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
has given permission for Jordan to build a large minaret adjacent to a mosque on the Temple Mount to call Muslims to prayer at the holy site, WND has learned.
The minaret will stand at a site on the Mount where rightist Jewish groups had petitioned to build a synagogue.
A minaret is a tower usually attached to a mosque from which Muslims are called to the five Islamic daily prayers.
There are four minarets on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism and third holiest in Islam. The new minaret will be the largest one yet. It will be the first built on the Temple Mount in over 600 years and is slated to tower over the walls of Jerusalem's old city. It will reside next to the al-Marwani Mosque, located at the site of Solomon's Stables.
Sources in the Jordanian monarchy and the Waqf told WND Olmert earlier this month gave Jordan's King Abdullah official permission to build the minaret. The sources said the minaret will rise 130 feet above the ancient walls of Jerusalem.
A senior Olmert adviser today confirmed to WND the Israeli prime minister told Abdullah he will allow the minaret's construction.
The adviser said he could not speak on the record because Israel
has been waiting for an "opportune time" to officially announce permission for the new minaret.
In October, King Abdullah announced plans to build the fifth minaret, although at the time the Jordanians reportedly did not have Israel's permission to commence construction. Abdullah said the minaret would bear the symbol of the Jordanian monarchy.
The Temple Mount's first minaret was constructed on the southwest corner in 1278; the second was built in 1297 by order of a Mameluke king; the third by a governor of Jerusalem in 1329; and the last in 1367.
Aryeh Eldad, a Knesset member from Israel's National Union party, last year drew up plans with rightist Jewish groups to build a synagogue near the Marwani Mosque.
The synagogue was to be built in accordance with rulings from several prominent rabbis, who said Jews can ascend the Mount at certain areas.
A top leader of the Waqf – the Islamic custodians of the Mount – told WND Olmert's granting of permission to build the minaret in the synagogue's place "confirms 100-percent the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) belongs to Muslims."
"This proves Jewish conspiracies for a synagogue will never succeed and solidifies our presence here. It will make Muslims worldwide more secure that the Jews will never take over the Haram al-Sharif," the Waqf official said.
Rabbi Chaim Rechman, director of the international department at Israel's Temple Institute , blasted Olmert's decision to allow the minaret as "repugnant to anyone who knows what it is to be a Jew."
"The decision and Israel's general attitude toward the Temple Mount is the manifestation of spiritual bankruptcy in the country's leadership. Olmert is turning his back on our Jewish heritage while the rest of the world looks at us with amazement at how we can be so insensitive to our own spiritual legacy."
The First Jewish Temple was built by King Solomon in the 10th century BC. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The Second Temple was rebuilt in 515 BC after Jerusalem was freed from Babylonian captivity. That temple was destroyed by the Roman Empire in AD 70. Each temple stood for a period of about four centuries.
The Jewish Temple was the center of religious Jewish worship. It housed the Holy of Holies, which contained the Ark of the Covenant and was said to be the area upon which God's "presence" dwelt. The al-Aqsa Mosque now sits on the site.
The temple served as the primary location for the offering of sacrifices and was the main gathering place in Israel during Jewish holidays.
The Temple Mount compound has remained a focal point for Jewish services over the millennia. Prayers for a return to Jerusalem have been uttered by Jews since the Second Temple was destroyed, according to Jewish tradition. Jews worldwide pray facing toward the Western Wall, a portion of an outer courtyard of the Temple left intact.
The al-Aqsa Mosque was constructed around AD 709 to serve as a shrine near another shrine, the Dome of the Rock, which was built by an Islamic caliph. Al-Aqsa was meant to mark the place where Muslims believe Muhammad, the founder of Islam, ascended to heaven.
Reprinted with permission of WorldNetDaily