The Jan. 31 decision by the Israeli government to approve a site adjacent to Jerusalem’s Western Wall plaza for mixed-gender prayer was generally hailed as a successful compromise to a religious conflict between liberal Jews and Israel’s Orthodox community that has been going on since 1988, but now Israeli archaeologists are warning the necessary construction threatens “the most important archaeological site for the Jewish people.”
The plan calls for for construction of an elevated plaza south of the current prayer plaza and adjacent to Robinson’s arch. It would be separated from the Western Wall prayer site, where men and women pray separately, by the Mughrabi Bridge, the ramp providing access to the Temple Mount from the Old City.
“I know this is a sensitive topic, but I think it is an appropriate solution, a creative solution,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the cabinet meeting where the plan was approved. “The most complex problems usually require such solutions.”
The construction has already been approved by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the group that is responsible for archaeological concerns.