Ehud Olmert reportedly spurned an appeal by Israel’s defense minister to halt repair work near the Temple Mount. Ha’aretz on Thursday quoted the Israeli prime minister as saying that Arab anger at the excavation and renovation work on a bridge linking the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount, which houses two major Muslim mosques, is unwarranted. “A thorough examination of the matter would reveal that nothing about the work under way will harm anyone, and there is no truth in the contentions against the work,” the newspaper quoted Olmert’s office as saying in a letter to Amir Peretz. According to Ha’aretz, Peretz had asked Olmert to stop the dig, which Arabs claim aims to undermine the mosques and which has stirred fears of a new flare-up in Israeli-Palestinian violence. Olmert’s offices declined comment, while Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh disputed the details of the Ha’aretz report. “The defense minister did not request that the work be stopped. He asked for a discussion to reconsider it,” Sneh told Israel Radio.
Report: Olmert firm on Jerusalem dig