Wednesday, March 14, 2007

UNESCO Clears Israel of Damaging Temple Mount

Source: Malaysia Sun

Tuesday 13th March, 2007

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 theplace be suspended in order to allow for international monitors toarrive in Jerusalem and supervise the project.

In the report, which was obtained by the Malaysia Sun, UNESCO expertslaud Israel for the transparency with which the works were beingcarried 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 beenproperly documented and supervised, in compliance with internationalprofessional standards. Nevertheless, the organization criticizes Israel for failing toinvolve 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 theworks in Jerusalem. Israel may protest this recommendation, seeing that the mandate given to the committee was only to inspect works onthe ground, and not issue recommendations.

Sources in the Israeli Foreign Ministry expressed their satisfactionover the report findings, but not over its conclusions. "The findings confirm Israel's claims that the works were carried outprofessionally 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 awebsite 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 spreadand 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.

NOTE: Please visit our Mughrabi Ramp Source Sheet for more Information and links to live cameras from the site: