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The Jerusalem district planning and building committee yesterday approved the plans for the city's controversial Museum of Tolerance.

The museum, an initiative of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, has aroused opposition because it is being built on the site of a former Muslim cemetery.

Hundreds of old skeletons were removed in the course of work on the foundations.

The original plan was prepared by noted architect Frank Gehry, but he withdrew when the project was forced to cut costs following the global economic crisis of 2008. The Wiesenthal Center then chose a new architect who drafted a much less expensive plan, which required new permits from the planning authorities.

Though the new plan widely diverges from Gehry's, the Wiesenthal Center didn't submit it as a new plan; it instead asked the committee to treat it as a set of changes to the old one, which is a much quicker process.

The Wiesenthal Center said neither the area of the museum nor its purpose has changed since the original plan, so there was no need to begin the approval process from scratch.

The museum will be modeled after the center's Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, and will be dedicated to "strengthening the values of tolerance and human dignity both among Jews themselves and with their non-Jewish neighbors," the center said.