Amid UNESCO Flap, Israel Will Sponsor Rightist NGO's Temple Mount Project

Netanyahu calls decision 'crushing response' to what he calls UN body's attempt to deny Israel's Jewish history.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
A view of the excavation of the City of David, just south of Temple Mount, in Jerusalem. The picture clearly shows the growth of the modern city around the ancient one, on a day marked by sandstorm (hence the brown, murky color of the sky).
A view of the excavation of the City of David, just south of Temple Mount, in Jerusalem. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday that the government will help fund an archaeological recovery project focused on the Temple Mount and operated by a right-wing organization.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project sorts through debris that was removed from Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, which Muslims call Haram al-Sharif, during a 1999 excavation by the Waqf Muslim religious trust that Israel viewed as illegal. The project is operated by the Ir David foundation, commonly known as Elad, which operates the City of David National Park and settles Jews in predominantly Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel, near the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Netanyahu slammed the recent resolution by the UN’s United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization that refers to the Temple Mount only as Haram al-Sharif and makes no mention of Jewish ties to the site.

Addressing employees of the Israel Antiquities Authority who attended the ceremony, the prime minister said they “have given a crushing answer to those who are trying to deny, disappear, wipe out the history of our people in our land, as expressed in Unesco. I advise UNESCO to stop blurring and concealing the truth and focus on the real danger to world cultural treasures from radical Islam. Israel is almost the only place in the Middle East where radical cults aren’t destroying mosques and churches, and they’re complaining about us?” Netanyahu said.

IAA Director Yisrael Hasson compared the UNESCO resolution to the destruction of antiquities by the Islamic State organization. “Around us, antiquities are being destroyed by murderers and recently UNESCO joined this campaign of destruction by diplomatic means,” Hasson said.

Hasson pledged to cooperate with Elad, saying that before beginning military service every young Israeli would spend a day working in archaeological digs in Jerusalem, whether in the Western Wall plaza, the Davidson Archaeological Park or the City of David.

The archaeological campus, designed by architect Moshe Safdie, will house a significant part of IAA operations. A large underground warehouse will store national artifacts and many of the IAA’s archaeological findings.

The building will not be completed for several months. Figures in the IAA said the inauguration was held this week with an eye to increasing the contributions needed to complete the project.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Already signed up? LOG IN


הקלטות מעוז

Jewish Law Above All: Recordings Reveal Far-right MK's Plan to Turn Israel Into Theocracy

איתמר בן גביר

Why I’m Turning My Back on My Jewish Identity

Travelers looking at the Departures board at Ben Gurion Airport. The number of olim who later become yordim is unknown.

Down and Out: Why These New Immigrants Ended Up Leaving Israel

Beatrice Grannò and Simona Tabasco as Mia and Lucia in "The White Lotus."

The Reality Behind ‘The White Lotus’ Sex Work Fantasy

The Mossad hit team in Dubai. Exposed by dozens of security cameras

This ‘Dystopian’ Cyber Firm Could Have Saved Mossad Assassins From Exposure

מליאת הכנסת 28.12.22

Comeback Kid: How Netanyahu Took Back Power After 18 Months in Exile