Palestinians condemn Israeli bills on outposts, mosques

Proposed legislation allowing confiscation of private land and silencing of mosque "noise" could lead to "catastrophe".

    Palestinian leaders on Monday denounced controversial Israeli draft bills - one authorising illegal settlements, the other silencing calls to prayer - threatening to take the issues to the United Nations Security Council.

    A committee of Israeli ministers adopted the two bills on Sunday, though they must still be approved by parliament.

    Israeli committee approves bill legalising outposts

    "The recent Israeli measures are going to lead to catastrophe in the region," said Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

    "The Palestinian leadership will turn to the UN Security Council and all other international organisations to stop those Israeli measures."

    Calls for calm at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa

    On the bill allowing the government to order the confiscation of privately owned Palestinian land, Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki accused Israel of seeking to "impose facts on the ground and create new realities by legalising the illegal actions that it commits".

    The international community considers all Israeli settlements in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank to be illegal - whether they are authorised by the government or not.

    Palestinians also sharply criticised a separate bill that would limit the volume of calls to prayer at mosques in Israel and Jerusalem.

    Government watchdogs have called that proposal a threat to freedom of religion - and a provocation.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had received complaints "from all parts of Israeli society, from all religions" about "the excessive noise" coming from the loudspeakers that transmit the prayers.

    Benjamin Netanyahu backs bill to stop mosque 'noise'

    While the draft bill applies to all houses of worship, it is seen as specifically targeting mosques.

    "There happens to be one religion that does, if you will, disturb the peace a little bit more than some of the others. But this bill is written for everyone," Jeremy Saltan, of the Jewish Home Party, told Al Jazeera.

    Sheikh Omar Kiswani, director of al-Aqsa Mosque, said the move against the call to prayer was unacceptable.

    "The occupying power should not intervene in our religious culture," he told Al Jazeera.

    "The bill violates international and religious laws. The occupation is not just provoking Muslims in Jerusalem but around the world."

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    SOURCE: News Agencies


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