By Etgar Lefkovits, June 23, 2000
Following a meeting with police and security officials yesterday afternoon,
Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein decided not to take any steps for now
regarding the Wakf construction at the Temple Mount.
His decision came despite a newly released Jerusalem Municipality
report detailing serious building violations by the Moslem authorities around the
The meeting at the attorney-general’s office was held to formulate a response
to a petition to the High Court of Justice asking the government to stop the
Wakf from carrying out work at the Temple Mount.
Jerusalem Municipality officials expressed their dismay that they were not
invited to take part in the meeting, especially in light of the municipality’s own
report of continuing archeological damage being done at the site. The report
notes that two new structures, as well as a number of portable structures, were
discovered by municipal officials on a recent inspection and that work is
continuing at Solomon’s Stables.
A Justice Ministry spokesman was unable to explain why the
municipality was not invited to the meeting.
“Due to the fact that no damage to antiquities is being done at the present
time, and since there is no digging being conducted on the surface level
according to reports from the Antiquities Authority, and considering the special
sensitivities of the Temple Mount, there is no room at the present time to take
additional steps,” read the Justice Ministry’s response outlining the
government’s position regarding the petition.
Antiquities Authority Jerusalem regional archeologist, Jon Seligman, responsible
for issuing inspection reports to the attorney-general, told The Jerusalem Post
that currently only minor changes were being made to the surface of the
Temple Mount, noting that the real damage was carried out four months ago.
But spokeswoman for the nonpartisan Committee Against the Desecration of
Antiquities on the Temple Mount Dr. Eilat Mazar charged the Antiquities
Authority with using misleading terminology in its reports of what sort of work
is damaging, and said any digging on the surface of the Temple Mount causes
“The level of the Temple Mount is at the same level as it was during the
Second Temple period, so that even 5 or 10 cm. of digging has to be checked
out by archeologists” she told the Post.
Mazar pointed out that her group had also asked the attorney-general
for permission to attend yesterday’s meeting, but were turned down.
Meanwhile, The Temple Mount Faithful filed a separate petition to the High
Court yesterday against the government, the police, the attorney-general, the
Antiquities Authority, the Jerusalem Munici-pality, and the Wakf for not
preventing the ongoing Wakf construction at the Temple Mount, including the
building of a fourth mosque at the site. The petition accuses the law
enforcement officials of acquiescing to threats of violence by turning a blind
eye to Wakf construction.
“Unlike in previous cases, the works are at a beginning stage” read the
petition, “so the authorities can stop them in advance.”
“What is going on at the Temple Mount is a disgrace and an embarrassment”
said Jerusalem Prize winner for the year 2000 Dr. Roni Reich, one of Israel’s
leading archeologists. “If the destruction is not stopped, it
will be a calamity for generations.”