The Mughrabi Gate: An Alternative

This proposal is "win-win."

Dr. Moshe Dann,

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Israel's controversial archaeological dig and reconstruction next to the Western Wall and below the Temple Mount's plaza - where the golden Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aksa mosque are located - have once again pitted Muslims against Jews.

Located below the so-called "Mughrabi Gate" entrance to the Temple Mount, the excavations were condemned by Muslims despite affirmations by UNESCO and other foreign observers that the work did not impact Muslim holy sites. The Mughrabi Gate is the only access for non-Muslim civilians.

Once the dig is completed, however, an even more difficult problem must be faced: access to the Temple Mount through the Mughrabi Gate. The Israeli government and the company responsible for the dig have proposed a bridge-stairway to the gate that will be anchored in the dig itself. This plan has raised concern among archaeologists because it will damage the site and detract from its grandeur.

It will also cost a lot of money.

There is, however, an alternative that will be far less expensive, that will retain the integrity of the site, that will provide easier access for visitors to this important holy site, and that will not infringe on Muslim sensibilities.

Access to the Temple Mount can be constructed from the northern side of the Western Wall plaza, over what is called "Wilson's Arch," and through what is now a police station. The station itself can be expanded or easily relocated to another area nearby, perhaps inside the Mughrabi Gate. That gate would then be permanently closed, since there would no longer be any access.

This new entrance and exit for non-Muslims (all other gates are restricted by the Wakf, the Muslim trust) would be built outside the Temple Mount plaza area, abutting, but not going beyond the Western Wall. The entrance would be incorporated into the existing police station and gate at the end of Rehov Shalshelet.
That gate would then be permanently closed, since there would no longer be any access.

Moreover, an observation platform could be constructed there for those who would like to view, but not step on, the Temple Mount itself.

Access for wheel-chair-bound and disabled people could be provided directly from the Western Wall plaza area by elevator, and a special ramp along the street. A similar ramp could easily be constructed from the Jewish Quarter to the new entrance point.

Finally, the proposed bridge linking the excavations to the Mughrabi Gate would be vulnerable in case of earthquakes and terrorist attacks. An entrance via a building, on the other hand, would be secure and protected.

This proposal is a "win-win" alternative; it would not disturb the archaeological site, it would preserve the sanctity of the Western Wall area, it meets the needs of visitors, and (because it would not be built on the Temple Mount itself) it would not violate Muslim and Jewish concerns.