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Iran grills Israel over synagogue reopening

Iran has deplored Israel’s reopening of a synagogue near al-Aqsa mosque, demanding the international community to take action against the move.

Israel on Monday reopened the Hurva synagogue in East Jerusalem (al-Quds), as part of what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Israel’s “heritage.”

The move has sparked protests by Palestinians in the holy city and elsewhere in the West Bank. Clashes have also been reported between the police and angry Palestinians.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast on Tuesday condemned Israel’s move as a “catastrophe that has distressed the Islamic world.”

He said the world community was expected to stand up against the move.

“We condemn the move and call on the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Arab League and the United Nations to take appropriate measures to stop this occupying regime,” Mehmanparast said.

He also condemned Israel’s plan to increase settlement activities.

Israel announced last week that it would erect 1,600 new settler houses in al-Quds, as US Vice President Joe Biden was in Israel over the so-called peace talks with the Palestinians.

Mehmanparast said Biden’s visit was not aimed at stopping Israel from settlement activities, saying it was, in fact, a “cover-up” for Israel’s measures.

He said the US had to take into account “numerous considerations” when it came to Israel.

Although the US criticized Israel for stalling peace talks through settlement activities, it backed Israel’s reopening of the rebuilt synagogue.

The US State Department said Palestinians’ criticisms of the reopening of the building could “only serve to heighten tensions.”

Despite Israel’s insistence that there is no political motives behind the move, the reopening of the synagogue is regarded as part of Israel’s plan to judaize al-Quds.

Head of al-Quds international institution, Dr. Ahmed Abu Halabiya, said the reopening of Hurva synagogue in al-Quds was part of an Israeli plan “to build a Jewish temple on al-Aqsa ruins.”

Hatem Abdel Qader, the Palestinian Authority’s official in charge of al-Quds affairs also expressed concern over what he described as “not just a synagogue.”

“We warn against this action by the Zionist enemy to rebuild and dedicate the Hurva synagogue. It signifies the destruction of the al-Aqsa mosque and the building of the temple,” he said.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is Islam’s third holiest location.

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