The Temple Mount / Sullying the Silence

The Temple Mount is indeed in our hands, rough though they may be, but that doesn't mean it's appropriate to act as though others have no stake in that territory.

Were I to believe that this lame government were capable of conspiring, I would say the Israeli excavations show that Israel doesn't stand aloof when Palestinian blood is spilled like water. After all, the Palestinians will now put an end to their violent internecine clashes and turn their anger - and perhaps also their arms - toward Israel.

An overabundance of quiet has recently prevailed in Jerusalem, and for born Revisionists, "silence is mire," as the Beitar anthem has it. So why not sully the relative quiet; why not provoke a bit of a confrontation if a good opportunity comes along?

Sometimes it seems that if there is a dangerous tunnel in the Temple Mount compound and it is possible to thrust our way toward it, then sooner or later that is what will happen, shaking up the most sensitive site in the world. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will show Benjamin Netanyahu that the Likud leader is not the only one who can rock the foundations of volatile coexistence.

It's symbolic that in the first phase of the excavations, earth is being removed ahead of the construction of a bridge. Until this one bridge is build, a dozen other bridges will be burned and the last of the people crossing from one side to the other will disappear.

The Israel Antiquities Authority comes up with many damaging and unnecessary plans. When I was the minister responsible for deciding on such plans, I opposed them, even though they all seemed reasonable at the outset. If the works are not crucial or urgently needed to save lives, then it's best to steer clear of the compound of conflagration.

Yesterday it became clear that the work was being done without a legal permit, and archeologist Meir Ben-Dov, who has been running digs in the Temple Mount area for 39 years, argues that these excavations are unnecessary.

The Association for the Development and Renovation of Jerusalem - The Jewish Quarter is behind the dig, and since when do these professional provocateurs need permits? After all, working within the law, responsibly and sensitively, is in complete opposition to their lifestyles and most fundamental principles.