Israel to dismantle Temple Mount ramp

Jerusalem - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the dismantling of a ramp giving non-Muslims access to the Temple Mount, an issue that raised Jordan's ire, a government source said on Wednesday.

"This construction had never received any authorisation and was illegal, so we decided to destroy it," the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The government of neighbouring Jordan, the guardian of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, has repeatedly called on Israel to remove the structure.

The news came on the same day that Jordan, which has 1994 peace deal with the Jewish state, agreed a 15-year deal reportedly worth $15bn to purchase natural gas from Israel's Leviathan offshore gas field.

The wooden ramp leads to the plaza housing the golden Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam.

Constructed in 2004 on a temporary basis after the collapse of an earthen ramp, it allows non-Muslim visitors as well as Israeli forces access to the esplanade.

In February 2007, a renovation project of the ramp was halted amid protests from the Muslim world, for fear of damage to Islamic monuments.