UN Experts: Mugrabi Gate Dig Meets International Standards

Shlomo Shamir
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Shlomo Shamir

Israel's excavation work at the Mugrabi Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem is being carried out in accordance with international standards, according to the report drafted by a team of UNESCO experts who came to Jerusalem to expect the controversial dig.

Sources in the UN said the report, which will be published on Wednesday, accepts Israel's claims that the excavations do not harm the Temple Mount compound, and support the legality of the work.

However, the report criticizes Israel's choice to carry out the excavation independently, without including international bodies in the plans, and calls on Israel to temporarily halt the excavation immediately to allow continued international supervision.

The report also calls on Israel to quit acting alone with regards to the dig at the Mugrabi Gate, so that international bodies can supervise and participate in the continuation of the work in the area.

Sources in the Foreign Ministry expressed disappointment and hestitation with some clauses in the report, which were given to Haaretz ahead of official publication.

The excavations, which began in early February, touched off protests by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs and raised Muslim fears that the compound housing al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock could be undermined.

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