Deal Reached in Burial Dispute

Government archaeologists, under pressure from haredi, or fervently Orthodox, Jews, have agreed to rebury 2,000-year-old bones together with their ancient coffins.

But they said their agreement to do so under a compromise plan “will not be considered a precedent” for the disposition of sarcophagi and ossuaries found at future archaeological digs.

Accord on reburial of remains found at a dig in the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem last week was reached in talks between Interior Minister Arye Deri, leader of the haredi Shas party; Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Kulitz; the Israel Antiquities Department; and the Jerusalem municipality.

It followed the outbreak of rioting among haredi communities in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak over excavation of ancient burial caves in French Hill.

Archaeologists failed to win acceptance for their proposal to reinter the bones alone and retain the ancient coffins for study.

Negotiators also agreed a joint committee would be set up to monitor action on any more finds at the French Hill site, where a road is due to be built.

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