Fearing mass-scale destruction of holy artifacts under the Temple Mount, the
Temple Mount Faithful, a group that calls for the Jewish takeover of the site,
petitioned the High Court on Thursday to order the full publication of the
secret State Comptroller’s Report on excavation works being conducted at one of
the holiest places in the world.
Last week, State Comptroller Micha
Lindenstrauss submitted his biannual report, which included a special, secret
report on state supervision of the works being conducted by the Jerusalem
Islamic Wakf at the site.
The majority of the special report was not
published, with the reasons cited being harm to Israel’s national security and
possible harm to its foreign relations, but the small portion of it that was
made public spoke of severe deficiencies in the oversight of the appropriate
bodies over the works.
According to the report, the four state agencies
entrusted with enforcing the law in the Temple Mount – the police, the
Antiquities Authority, the Jerusalem municipality and the Justice Ministry – did
not do enough to conduct continuous supervision of the works and make sure that
all of the artifacts were protected.
“Protection of artifacts from the
Temple Mount and preventing their ruin is a public goal of the first order. It
is important to note that any digging and other works on the Temple Mount must
be conducted in consideration of the character of the place, and after receiving
all required permits and meeting all archeological guidelines. As a rule, use of
heavy machinery should be avoided,” read the report.
Faithful founder Gershon Salomon said that in recent years, the Waqf has
conducted large-scale demolition and construction works all across the Temple
Mount – but especially in places that have deep Jewish significance like the
historic location of the altar – that have resulted in the destruction of
historic artifacts, in what he claimed is a deliberate effort to destroy any
remnants indicating the site’s Jewish past.
Salomon said that the works
were being done without legal construction permits and with little or no
official state supervision.
“The Jerusalem municipality comes down
harshly on anyone who closes off a balcony without the required permits, but in
the holiest of holies, anything goes,” said Salomon.
systematically removing any Jewish vestiges of our historic temple and the state
isn’t lifting a finger to stop it.”
Salomon said his organization was
able to obtain photos of the construction works taking place that he claims
provide evidence of what he calls the “Islamification” of the Temple
“The state fears that if they impose the laws on the works, the
Arabs will spring up and revolt, so they allow them to do as they please,” said
Salomon’s group has repeatedly called for the Israeli takeover
of the Temple Mount and the construction of the third Jewish Temple on the
In 1990, the group attempted to place a cornerstone for the new
Temple, triggering Arab riots, which ended with 17 Palestinians dying. Today the
group holds regular demonstrations and raised funds for the future construction
of the Temple.
In the petition, the group’s lawyer, Naftaly Werzberger,
argues that the state authorities’ failure to adequately supervise the works at
the Temple Mount was a violation of previous court decisions, and that the State
Comptroller’s Report proved it.
He said that the decision to keep the
full report under wraps was a cover-up for the state’s inaction and that the
state was making cynical use of the threat to national security.
decision to keep the report confidential is a prize for lawbreakers, making the
state and its values captive to the threats of anarchy and violence to the point
of loosing sovereignty.
Only disclosure of the truth can cure the faults
that the state comptroller uncovered,” read the petition.
Otniel Schneler, who chaired the Knesset State Control subcommittee on the
Temple Mount works, which ordered that the full report remain confidential, told
The Jerusalem Post that the committee had good reason to keep the full report
secret and charged that anyone who asked to have it revealed in full would
inadvertently be aiding in relinquishing Israeli sovereignty of the Temple
“The state has an interest to maintain sovereignty over the Temple
Mount. In practical terms, this entails being able to enter and tour the site,
with certain restrictions, to prohibit digging and construction that don’t have
proper permits and other similar manifestations.
When the state
comptroller finds failings or shortcomings, our job is to correct them, not to
arm our enemies, who are trying to disinherit us from the site. We decided to
prohibit publication out of deep and sincere concern for our sovereign rights.
Any word said by a state institution can be used against Israel” said
Schneler said that when he first read the report, he was in
favor of publishing it in its entirety, but consultations with different
relevant state agencies led him to the opposite conclusion.
“In order to
reach the desired goals, we have to believe that the decision-makers love and
cherish the Temple Mount no less than the petitioners,” concluded
Schneler denied Salomon’s claims of zero oversight and said
that all of the faults raised by the State Comptroller’s Report had already been
Yoel Hasson (Kadima), who chairs the State Control Committee,
said that the fact that the report was secret doesn’t mean that the findings
were ignored or that there would be no parliamentary oversight.
committee’s members will debate the report and remedy the findings, just as it
treats all other reports. People must trust the Knesset’s decisions, even when
it deals in issues that are not open to the public,” said Hasson.
MK Yariv Levine, however, disagreed.
“While the committee can legally
decide to designate the report or parts of it as confidential, I don’t believe
there is any justification for it in this case,” said Levine.
implementing our sovereignty, we are allowing the Waqf to do as they please. If
the authorities aren’t doing their jobs, we should know about it and take steps
to remedy the situation.”
“The scare tactics about an alleged threat to
national security are baseless,” Levine continued.
“The Waqf knows about
everything that goes on in the Temple Mount and if there is anything that could
have harmed Israel, they would have let the world know about it long ago. I
accept keeping secret, certain, specific information that can harm us, but
making the entire report confidential is completely unreasonable.”