Temple Mount Destruction
Israel’s Supreme Court Hears CPDATM Petition
This morning, the supreme court dealt with a plea of the Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount (CPDATM). Based on the judges who had been selected to deal with the issue (Ayala Purcacha, Asher Gronis and Edna Arbel) there seemed to be a slight chance for the plea’s acceptance. Surprisingly, at the opening of the discussion, it seemed that Judge Procaccia was sympathetic toward the presentation of the committee. However, the state’s attorneys managed to upset the entire case by focusing the issue on the question of whether or not there was archaeological supervision while the trench-digging took place, instead of dealing with the question of why the digging was permitted without first carrying out a preliminary, preventative salvage excavation. Archaeological supervision is required where there is a question as to whether or not a site contains antiquities, whereas in known archaeological sites, salvage excavations are carried out before allowing earth-moving or construction work. The impression created in the court was that archaeological supervision can be put on par with an actual dig during which scientific records are made of the exposed antiquities and remnants found. Our situation here can be compared to open heart surgery being carried out with an axe, while a professional surgeon looks on.
Behind closed doors, the state presented evidence testifying to the fact that the earth-works were carried out under archeological supervision. The committee and its lawyers could not respond to testimony given behind closed doors and therefore the judges announced their acceptance of the state’s evidence that there had indeed been close supervision. To finalize the matter, it was requested that the committee present within 21 days an expert archaeological opinion as to the criteria according to which there should have been archeological supervision on The Mount, and following that a judgment will be given.
It must be pointed out that, should the court accept the position of the government, agreeing that archaeological supervision is adequate and that there is no need for a salvage excavation, this will be a dangerous precedent. Any contractor who wishes to build on a known archeological site where the Antiquities Authority demands that he first finance and carry out a salvage excavation, will be able to say that archeological supervision was deemed to be adequate on the Temple Mount—all the more so at any other location in the country.—Zachi Zweig
See Israel Caspi interview after the court hearing: www.israelnationalnews.com/TV/?act=one&id=2080.
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