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Aide: Palestinians to blame for damage to Temple Mount

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A bulge in the wall of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount — which conservationists warn is in danger of collapsing — is the fault of Palestinian excavations, according to a congressional office.

“The bulge in the wall is being caused by the Palestinian Authority,” said Stacey Felzenberg, a spokesperson for Rep. Eric Cantor, R.-Va.. Cantor is a longtime advocate of legislation that would bar all aid to the Palestinian Authority unless it stops excavations at the site of the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount Preservation Act, H.R. 2566, introduced by Cantor in 2001, with 37 co-sponsors, has languished in the House International Relations Committee. Felzenberg said she hopes recent developments in the condition of the Temple Mount will force the bill out of committee.

The Temple Mount was the site of the temple built by King Solomon and the rebuilt temple that stood during Jesus’ earthly ministry. The Dome of the Rock, a Muslim mosque, is now located on the mount.

“The excavation clearly needs to cease as soon as possible,” Felzenberg said. “And that’s what this legislation would do.”

If excavation doesn’t stop, the bulge could collapse the wall, endangering the lives of hundreds of worshipers, according to Jerusalem’s mayor and Israeli conservationists. The bulge is located along the southern wall of the Al Aqsa Mosque compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al Sharif.

“In my view we have reached a moment of truth,” Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert told The Washington Times. “There are serious grounds for fearing that it could collapse.”

Muslim authorities, on the other hand, dispute those claims, arguing that the Israelis’ warnings are a politically motivated attempt to establish Israel’s authority over the mount.

Israeli conservationists want the wall dismantled and rebuilt. Adnan Husseini, director-general of a Muslim religious trust that oversees Islamic sites in Jerusalem, told the Associated Press that rebuilding the wall is unacceptable and no outside interference will be acceptable.

“This bulge is under our monitoring since the ’70s,” he told the Associated Press. “It is stable. We don’t feel that there is any dangerous situation.”

Meanwhile, both Muslim and Jewish observers said if the wall does collapse, the percussions could be felt globally.

If the wall were to collapse on Jewish worshipers, one Islamic expert said that Muslims would celebrate claiming it was Allah’s judgment on the Jews.

If the wall were to fall on Muslim worshipers, Rafael Israeli of Hebrew University said the Muslim world would be on fire.

“It would be a good cause for violence from Cameroon to Indonesia,” he told CNSNews.com.

American intervention in the controversy would come in the form of Cantor’s legislation. If approved, the bill would bar all aid to the Palestinian Authority, chaired by Yasser Arafat, as long as it continues unauthorized excavations.

Palestinian excavations began in 1998 and have resulted in the destruction of antiquities that date back to the time of the first temple. The Jerusalem Post reported that some of the antiques were dumped in the Kidron Valley and sold on the black market.

Cantor has described the excavations as “one of the most unprecedented attacks on religious heritage of our time.”

    About the Author

  • Todd Starnes