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New Route for Rambam Gate Approved

reprinted from Arutz 7
11 Av 5767, 26 July 07 04:54

(IsraelNN.com) The Jerusalem city planning council Thursday approved a new route for a bridge to the Rambam (Mughrabi) Gate at the Temple Mount.

The plan calls for a shorter bridge along the existing route, which would require less excavating and fewer pillars. The bridge is used by visitors as well as police.

The former proposal was scuttled after Arabs accused Israel of using excavations as an excuse to weaken foundations of the Al Aqsa mosque in order to cause its collapse. Archaeologists also feared that the excavations would damage antiquities.

Smaller Bridge to Mughrabi Gate Okayed

reprinted from The Jerusalem Post
July 26, 2007

by Etgar Lefkovits

The Jerusalem Municipality on Thursday gave preliminary approval for plans to construct a small bridge to the Mughrabi Gate adjacent to Jerusalem's Western Wall, the city said. Controversial plans to construct a massive new bridge to the site directly through an archaeological garden had been nixed.

The proposed route of the new bridge, which is still pending final approval, will follow the existing route of the ramp leading up to the Mughrabi Gate and will be significantly shorter than the originally-planned bridge. The decision to shelve the original building proposal, which was deeply contested by leading Israeli archaeologists, effectively means that a salvage excavation, which has drawn the wrath of Islamic officials, would be coming to a close shortly, officials said.

The bridge was meant to replace a temporary bridge that was built over a year ago above the section of the Western Wall allocated for women's prayer. The original stone ramp leading up to the Mughrabi Gate was removed after it was declared unsafe by city engineers.

The Mughrabi Gate is the entryway for non-Muslims to the Temple Mount, and is also used by Israeli police to enter the holy site for routine patrols and to quell sudden violence. But the originally planned route of the new bridge -- through one of the most significant archaeological parks in Israel and the world - provoked an outcry among archaeologists, who said it was inevitable that its construction would damage antiquities and badly hamper the natural view at the site.

"The archaeological garden is one of the foremost national accomplishments and should not be touched under any circumstances," said Professor Amos Kloner, a former Jerusalem district archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Plans for the new bridge, which would have been three times the size of the original one, were backed by the state-run Israel Antiquities Authority and the haredi Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinovitch, who was happy to distance the entryway to Judaism's holiest site from the Western Wall plaza. It later emerged that the authorities did not have all the required permits to build the new bridge, the officials said, and the whole project has been returned to a city committee to look for alternative solutions. An obvious solution to the dispute would have been to build any new bridge on the exact same route as the old one. But some officials rejected this proposal since they wanted to separate the flow of visitors to the Temple Mount from those to the Western Wall, officials said.

The new proposal, which was approved Thursday by the city's planning and construction committee, will now be sent to another municipal committee for approval, the city said.

The original stone ramp, which was built after the Six Day War in 1967, was badly damaged during an earthquake that rattled the region four years ago, after many years of corrosion due to inclement winter weather.

 

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