Noisy mosques bill ‘will drag region into disaster’ – Palestinian leader

The Palestinian Authority has expressed outrage and concern about the introduction of a new Israeli bill that would muffle the traditional Muslim call to prayer.

Speaking from Turkmenistan, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a statement that the proposed law, which would ban the use of loudspeakers for the muezzin’s call to prayer, “will drag the region into a catastrophe.”

“These measures are completely unacceptable and the leadership will go to the [UN] Security Council and all international institutions to stop these escalatory Israeli measures,” he said on Monday, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post.

Although the bill is yet to pass the Israeli parliament, which is called the Knesset, it was already approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday. The controversial law was proposed by MK Moti Yogev from the Zionist Jewish Home party in response to complaints about noise from around the country.

“People have to get their rest,” Arye Orange, a supporter of the bill from north Jerusalem, told the Jerusalem Post. “We are not against Muslims, Jews, or Christians, but no-one should be allowed to make such a loud noise so early in the morning.”

Meanwhile, critics of the bill argue that it infringes on Muslims’ right to freedom of worship and is merely a populist measure to drive up hatred between Israelis and Palestinians. Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu, co-executive director of the NGO Abraham Fund, told the Jerusalem Post that while excess noise was, indeed, a problem, the proposed legislation would only stir up tensions.

“Because there is already legislation in place and it will, in effect, only apply to the Muslim community, it looks like this bill was designed to antagonize people,” he explained. “Existing tensions between Jews and Arabs are already problematic and loaded enough… and issues of friction cannot be solved by legislation that will hurt the fabric of relations between [different] groups.”

The Ministerial Committee also approved another controversial bill on Sunday that would legalize Jewish settlements on Palestinian-owned land. The issue of Jewish settlements has been a major stumbling block in the Arab-Israeli peace process.

The UN has ruled that Israeli settlements on occupied land, including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, are illegal. Even Israel has regarded rogue settlements that are built without permission as illegal up till now, bit this new statute seeks to change that. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog called the bill a “serious stain on Israel law books, because it authorizes theft and robbery.”

“There is no precedent, nothing like it, in which the Israeli government authorized a law that allows taking land from private people,” he said.