UNESCO said it will send experts to inspect Israel’s archaeological excavation in Jerusalem’s Old City. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization announced Saturday that after consulting with Israel and Palestinian Islamic authorities, it would send a team of experts to assess the dig in the Western Wall Plaza, probably by month’s end. The excavations, which Israel says are necessary to scour for artifacts ahead of renovations on a walkway linking the plaza to the Temple Mount and do not threaten the integrity of Muslim shrines, have been met with anger throughout the Arab and Muslim world. UNESCO, which lists the Old City among its World Heritage sites, voiced hope that its fact-finding team could calm the controversy. “I believe that such a mission constitutes the most appropriate response to the present situation, and could also be a means of helping to alleviate tensions and restore a climate of confidence favorable to the dialogue that we all wish for,” UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura said in a statement.
UNESCO to inspect dig