Chief Rabbinate Seeks Control of Western Wall Area, Halt to Archaeological Work

Chief Rabbi I. Nissim asked a special ministerial committee yesterday to place the entire area around the West Wall in East Jerusalem under the sole jurisdiction of the Chief Rabbinate and demanded that archaeological work near the site be halted.

The Chief Rabbi made his demands during a walking tour of the area by the committee which is headed by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan. Mayor Teddy Kollek, of Jerusalem, was also present. The committee was appointed by the Prime Minister to investigate the status of holy places in the Old City and make recommendations. It was set up after the Chief Rabbinate complained that archaeological excavations near the site of the Temple’s south wall might invade the “holy of holies,” a spot which in the days of the Temple, was forbidden to all but the high priests. The excavations are being carried out by a team headed by Prof. Benjamin Mazar, former president of the Hebrew University and one of Israel’s most distinguished archaeologists. He is working under a license granted by the Ministry of Education. He had assured the chief rabbinate that the diggings would be outside the wall and not in the Temple Mount area.

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