July 17, 2012 Tuesday 27 Tammuz 5772
By Melanie Lidman
All construction must adhere to Planning and Building C'tee, Antiquities laws, Weinstein says.
The Temple Mount is under Israeli law but authorities must be “extra sensitive” to applying the laws on the site, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein wrote in a letter to legal advisors at the Jerusalem Municipality, the Jerusalem police, and the Israel Antiquities Authority. Weinstein submitted his letter a few weeks ago, but the issue came to the forefront on Tuesday due to a petition to the High Court of Justice concerning the Temple Mount which is expected to be heard within the next week.
The petition was filed by the fringe activist group Temple Mount Faithful, who claim that infrastructure work carried out to strengthen the Dome of the Rock is harming the Foundation Stone, the large stone believed to have held the Ark of the Covenant. The group filed the petition and said that the work done by the Muslim Waqf is not under the supervision of the Israeli authorities and is damaging the holiest site in Judaism.
Weinstein stressed that the Temple Mount must abide by all laws from the Planning and Building committee and the Antiquities Authority. He also wrote that any time authorities need to “test the application of law in the Temple Mount complex” they should be pragmatic and take the area’s unique status into consideration.
Weinstein suggested that any reports on the situation should be sent to the National Security Council and the cabinet secretary.
Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby said the police maintain a continuous presence on the Temple Mount to ensure that the IAA has full access to the construction work. “There are some people who want to make noise, claiming that the work is damaging and doing this and that, but all of the work being done there are is under supervision of the Israel Antiquities Authority without any kind of damage to any antiquities,” he said. Ben Ruby added that the Foundation Stone is covered in nylon tarps and the scaffolding is built around the area. IAA refused to comment on the issue.
Temple Mount Faithful director Gershon Salomon accused Weinstein of “fleeing from the issue” and stressed that even if there is no physical damage the construction is still “desecrating it in the most grotesque way imaginable.” The High Court of Justice is expected to examine the issue in the coming week.
A response from the State Attorney’s Office to the petition from Sunday stressed that since the Dome of the Rock was built 1300 years ago, the infrastructure work is essential in order to strengthen the roof.