Works near Temple Mount
Photo: AP
Demonstration in Nazareth
Photo: Hagai Aharon

Israeli works did not damage Temple Mount, UN says

UNESCO report, which will be published Wednesday, states Israel adhered to international standards in Mugrabi Gate excavations, but calls for suspension of project until international monitors can arrive in Jerusalem

Israeli works near the Temple Mount did not cause damage to the historic site, a UNESCO report set to be published Wednesday states. However, the UN organization recommends that the excavations at the place be suspended in order to allow for international monitors to arrive in Jerusalem and supervise the project.


In the report, which was obtained by Ynet, UNESCO experts laud Israel for the transparency with which the works were being carried out, and note that the excavations conducted near the Temple Mount compound do not jeopardize its stability.


According to the report, the works near the Mugrabi Gate have been properly documented and supervised, in compliance with international professional standards.


Nevertheless, the organization criticizes Israel for failing to involve other institutes in the project, probably referring to the UN's World Heritage Committee and Muslim bodies, such as the Waqf.


The report calls for the establishment of a committee to examine the works in Jerusalem. Israel may protest this recommendation, seeing that the mandate given to the committee was only to inspect works on the ground, and not issue recommendations.


'Findings confirm Israel's claims'

Sources in the Foreign Ministry expressed their satisfaction over the report findings, but not over its conclusions.


"The findings confirm Israel's claims that the works were carried out professionally and that nothing harmed the Temple Mount. However, the conclusions calling for an immediate halt of the works are inappropriate," a source said, adding that he was not certain the organization was authorized to issue such recommendations.


In an attempt to deal with the international protests, Israel built a website enabling people to watch the works "in real time." Simultaneously, diplomatic efforts were launched in order to explain Israel's stance.


The protests began with demonstrations by Islamic elements in Israel, headed by the Islamic Movement's northern branch. The protest spread and demonstrations were held across the world.


The UNESCO delegation arrived in the area about two weeks ago. The special team was formed following the riots sparked by the construction works near the Mount. The team was headed by Francesco Bandarin, director of the World Heritage Center, along with three other experts.


The team members toured the excavation site and met with Jerusalem's city engineer, members of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Jerusalem Municipality officials and Waqf officials.


פרסום ראשון: 03.13.07, 16:26
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