Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Israel scraps Mughrabi bridge plan
By ETGAR LEFKOVITS (Jerusalem Post)

In a dramatic about-face, controversial plans to construct a major new bridge to the Mughrabi Gate adjacent to Jerusalem's Western Wall directly through an archeological garden abutting the Temple Mount have been nixed amid concern about possible damage to artifacts, officials said Monday.

The decision to abort the massive bridge, the construction of which had been deeply contested by leading Israeli archeologists, effectively means that a salvage excavation under way in the area, which has drawn the wrath of Islamic officials and led to low-level Arab violence in the region earlier this year, will be coming to a close shortly, the officials said.

The planned major bridge was meant to replace a temporary bridge that was constructed on the section of the Western Wall allocated for women's prayer. The temporary bridge was built more than a year ago, after the original stone ramp leading up to the Mughrabi Gate was removed, having been deemed unsafe by city engineers.


A UNESCO report on the dig concluded that the excavation is not damaging the holy site but called on Israel to stop the dig nonetheless to allow for international observation of the work.