November 11, 2002

Temple Mount repairs planned
___JERUSALEM (RNS)--Jordanian experts are set to oversee repairs in the southern retaining wall of Jerusalem's biblical-era Temple Mount, resolving a simmering dispute over whether Israelis or Palestinians should supervise the work.
___Archaeologists with Israel's Antiquities Authority earlier had expressed fears the wall could collapse after a 35-foot-wide bulge developed on the face of the stone, visible from the areas around the mount. The bulge had developed two years after the construction of a mosque in an underground chamber just inside the Mount compound, known to Muslims as Al Haram
___According to a spokesman for the Wakf, the Muslim agency that oversees the mount, a technical team from Jordan took samples from the wall Oct. 7 and is reportedly set to deliver the samples to the Royal Scientific Society in Amman, where they will be analyzed.
___The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Israel had requested Jordanian involvement to resolve the impasse between Israeli government officials and the Islamic Trust over the repairs. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told reporters Israel was taking steps to repair the damage but would not confirm the Jordanian involvement in the project.
___Israel claims sovereignty over the site, which it captured during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. But everyday control of the eighth century Muslim religious shrines atop the mount lies with the Muslim trust.
___Since September 2000, when Palestinian-Israeli clashes first erupted on the mount during a visit there by then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon, all non-Muslims have been barred from the site by the Wakf. This impeded attempts by Israeli archaeologists to inspect and oversee construction work and repairs.

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