Excavations are set to resume on the ramp in the Western Wall plaza that leads to the Temple Mount.
Archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) were told by the cabinet on Sunday to resume their excavations at the Rambam (Mughrabi) Gate leading to the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, with all due haste.
They were also told to work with “full transparency” and in coordination with “relevant bodies” so as to complete construction of a new permanent foot bridge to the Western Wall as soon as possible. The bridge is to be used by visitors and also by police. Work being carried out to replace the current walkway, which partially collapsed in a storm in 2004, was halted in June in response to rioting by enraged Muslims who claimed the work was a plot to weaken the foundations of the Al Aqsa mosque.
The construction site is located 60 meters away from the mosque and was found by numerous Israeli and international engineers to be no threat to the structure. Nonetheless, a new plan was proposed by Jerusalem planning officials that called for a shorter bridge along the existing route, and which would require less excavating and fewer pillars. A budget of NIS 3.5 million has been allocated for the project.
In the wake of the Muslim riots, UNESCO investigators were sent by the United Nations to inspect the repair work being carried out on the broken footbridge.