Experts: Kotel plan will be sorrow for generations

Archaeologists warn that government's plan to modify Kotel plaza would hurt Israel's cultural heritage, strategic assets.

Matt Wanderman ,

Diggings by the Temple Mount
Diggings by the Temple Mount
Flash 90

Gilad Korinaldi, the lawyer representing archaeologist Meir Ben-Dov and other experts, is trying to warn the government about the potential cultural damage that would be caused by adopting the expanded Kotel plan to accommodate non-Orthodox services.

"This is a type of serious human cultural crime: harming the antiquities and the cultural heritage assets of the People of Israel, as well as its strategic assets," he said.

Korinaldi is recruiting help in his fight and recently held an emergency meeting with prominent Religious Zionist officials, including Rabbis Melamed, Drukman and Shteiner. During their talk, he explained the legal aspects of the case.

"The government's decision to do a 'copy-paste' in creating a new Kotel while covering archaeological finds from the First and Second Temples, including a magnificent Herodian road, stands in complete contrast to international conventions on maintaining historic sites that the State of Israel initiated and signed at the United Nations."

Korinaldi also stated that senior archaeologists have submitted a petition to Prime Minister Netanyahu, which has not yet been publicly released.

The petition, which is titled "Prevent the Destruction of the Archaeological Park," strongly warns against "the danger of trampling the most important Jewish heritage site... which is the diamond in the crown of Jerusalem's archaeology."

It is signed by Dr. Gabi Barkai and Professor Amihai Mazar, winners of the Israel Prize for archaeology, Professor Israel Finkelstein, a member of the Israeli Academy of Sciences, Professor Amos Kloner, a retired Jerusalem archaeologist, Professor Roni Reich, the head of the Archaeological Council, Professor Ephraim Stern, the former head of the Archaeological Council, Dr. Ayelet Mazar, the director of the archaeological diggings at the City of David, and Hilel Geva, the director of diggings in the Land of Israel.

Korinaldi further said that he intends to appeal to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), asking it to open a comprehensive investigation into "the serious scandal in making the IAA's decision, asking how the decision was made, who gave the IAA's permission, and exposing the protocols from the internal discussions, all of which occurred while senior archaeologists in the organization strongly opposed the plan."

He added that "it is so surprising, given the position of Shuka Dorfman z"l, the legendary director of the IAA who devoted his life to the issue, and now is certainly turning over in his grave... and in light of the severe damage to antiquities that can be expected."