JERUSALEM (Jan. 7)
The Cabinet earmarked IL 10 million today for an “emergency archaeological survey” of the Negev in advance of the projected new military deployment there following peace with Egypt. The work will be done under the aegis of the Education Ministry.
Officials explained that Deputy Premier Yigael Yadin, a leading archaeologist, and a number of his academic and ministerial colleagues feared that archaeological treasures would be irretrievably damaged or destroyed in the course of constructing Israel’s new defense lines in the Negev as a substitute for the present lines in Sinai. No such survey had ever been undertaken in the past, Cabinet Secretary Arye Naor said today.
Naor said the announcement did not signal new optimism over the course of the still-stalled peace talks with Egypt. But, he said, the assumption” was that a treaty would be signed and thus the survey was a matter of pressing urgency. He explained that the plans were to conduct quick digs at key sites unearthed by the survey to salvage as much as possible that might otherwise be crushed forever by the bulldozers.