Thursday, July 26, 2007


New plan for Temple Mount bridge aims to silence critics

Jerusalem's Planning and Construction Committee will begin discussing an alternative to the controversial Mughrabi Bridge project Wednesday.

The original plan for the bridge, which leads from the Old City's Dung Gate and the Western Wall to the Temple Mount's Mughrabi Gate, raised hackles in the Arab world when it was presented in February, due to allegations that it would damage the Temple Mount.

The new plan, which is to be presented by a team of experts, is very different from the previous one. It shortens the bridge, which will now follow the route of the existing ramp to the Mughrabi, instead of beginning in the area of the Southern Wall Archaeological Park, where some experts feared that it would block the view of the Temple Mount.

The bridge will consist of a wooden walkway bordered by metal, with two-meter-high iron railings, as required by the police. The number of pylons supporting it will be reduced from seven to four.

The height of the pylons will not exceed half a meter, and they will be placed on platforms in spaces excavated by the Israel Antiquities Authority during its salvage dig, allowing the antiquities to be restored and protected.

The planners mapped the archaeological finds along the bridge's path and found spaces in which the pylons could be placed without damaging the antiquities.

The bridge will not only be used by visitors coming to the Temple Mount, but also by the police, to send in large forces in case of unrest on the mount, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are located.

The municipality and the Interior Ministry are now preparing to deal with the project's major opponents: Israeli Arabs, East Jerusalem residents and the Arab world.

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