Viewing cable 07JERUSALEM266
Title: WAQF ADMINISTRATOR: EXCAVATIONS AT HARAM

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07JERUSALEM2662007-02-09 07:55:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Consulate Jerusalem
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DE RUEHJMA #0266 0400755
ZNY CCCCC ZZH ZUI RUEWMCF1543 0400809
O 090755Z FEB 07
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0000
INFO ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
ZEN/RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC
C O N F I D E N T I A L JERUSALEM 000266 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE; NEA/IPA FOR 
WILLIAMS/SHAMPAINE/BELGRADE; NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/WATERS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/08/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PBTS KHUM KWBG KPAL IS
SUBJECT: WAQF ADMINISTRATOR:  EXCAVATIONS AT HARAM 
AL-SHARIF/TEMPLE MOUNT 
 
REF: A. JERUSALEM 252 
     ¶B. TEL AVIV 441 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: CONSUL GENERAL JAKE WALLES, PER REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: THE CONSUL GENERAL MET WITH WAQF 
ADMINISTRATOR ADNAN HUSSEINI, GRAND MUFTI MOHAMMED HUSSEIN 
AND SHEIKH ABDEL AZIZ SALHAB FEBRUARY 8 TO DISCUSS THE 
MUGHRABI GATE RAMP TO THE HARAM AL-SHARIF/TEMPLE MOUNT. 
HUSSEINI SAID THE GOI HAD NOT COORDINATED WITH THE WAQF ON 
THIS PROJECT.  HUSSEINI AND SALHAB ALSO DENIED PRESS REPORTS 
CLAIMING THAT THE WAQF WAS PART OF A DECISION TO DELAY THE 
WORK BY ONE WEEK TO ALLOW INSTALLATION OF A NEW MINBAR TO THE 
AL AQSA MOSQUE.  HUSSEINI SAID HE FEARS THAT REMOVAL OF THE 
DIRT FROM THE OLD RAMP AND CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW RAMP COULD 
DAMAGE THE ROOMS ADJACENT TO THE WALL UNDER THE HARAM/TEMPLE 
MOUNT AND ALLOW ISRAELI ACCESS BELOW THE GATE INTO THE AREA 
UNDERNEATH THE HARAM/TEMPLE MOUNT.  APPROXIMATELY 150 PEOPLE 
PROTESTED ON FEBRUARY 8 OUTSIDE THE DUNG GATE (THE OLD CITY 
GATE CLOSEST TO THE MUGHRABI GATE RAMP).  HUSSEINI SAID HE 
EXPECTS IMAMS THROUGHOUT THE ARAB WORLD WILL ADDRESS THE 
ISSUE DURING FRIDAY PRAYERS ON FEBRUARY 9, AND HE FEARS AN 
OUTBREAK OF VIOLENCE. THE GOI AGREED FEBRUARY 8 TO HALT 
CONSTRUCTION WORK FOR TWO DAYS (REFTEL B), AND HUSSEINI 
CONFIRMED THAT NO WORK WAS ONGOING FEBRUARY 9 AND THAT TWO OF 
THE FOUR BULLDOZERS HAD BEEN REMOVED FROM THE SITE. END 
SUMMARY. 
 
HUSSEINI: NO COORDINATION, CONCERNS ABOUT VIOLENCE 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
¶2. (C) ADNAN HUSSEINI, ADMINISTRATOR FOR THE WAQF, DENIED 
DURING A FEBRUARY 8 MEETING WITH THE CONSUL GENERAL THAT THE 
WAQF THE GOI HAD COORDINATED WITH THE WAQF ON THE EXCAVATIONS 
AT THE MUGHRABI GATE RAMP.  HE SAID THAT IT IS "NOT TRUE" 
THAT THE WAQF WAS INVOLVED A DECISION TO DELAY THE PROJECT BY 
ONE WEEK TO ALLOW THE INSTALLATION OF THE NEW MINBAR.  (NOTE: 
JORDANIAN KING ABDULLAH PROVIDED THE MINBAR TO REPLACE THE 
ONE GIVEN BY SALAH EDDIN BUT DESTROYED BY AN ARSONIST IN 
1969.)  HUSSEINI SPECULATED THE CONSTRUCTION MAY HAVE BEEN 
TIMED TO EMBARRASS KING ABDULLAH.  HE ALSO CAST DOUBT ON GOI 
CLAIMS THAT IT HAD COORDINATED WITH UNESCO, WHICH HUSSEINI 
SAYS HAS NOT BEEN ALLOWED TO SEND OBSERVERS INTO THE OLD CITY 
SINCE 1997. 
 
¶3. (C) HUSSEINI SAID HE IS CONCERNED THAT THE EXCAVATIONS AND 
CONSTRUCTION COULD DAMAGE ROOMS LOCATED ADJACENT TO THE 
PERIMETER WALL OF HARAM/TEMPLE MOUNT.  HE ALSO EXPRESSED 
CONCERNS THAT THE WORK WILL ALLOW ISRAELI ACCESS BELOW THE 
GATE TO THE AREA UNDERNEATH THE HARAM/TEMPLE MOUNT.  HUSSEINI 
SAID THAT THE SERMONS FOR FRIDAY PRAYERS FEBRUARY 9 
THROUGHOUT THE ARAB WORLD WOULD DEAL WITH THE ISSUE OF THE 
EXCAVATIONS, AND THAT HE FEARED VIOLENCE IF THE EXCAVATIONS 
CONTINUED. GRAND MUFTI HUSSEIN COMMENTED THAT SHARON'S VISIT 
(IN 2000, WHICH PRECEDED THE START OF THE SECOND INTIFADA) 
HAD LASTED ONLY 40 MINUTES. "WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS WILL DO?" 
 
SITE VISIT 
---------- 
 
¶4.  (C) FOLLOWING THE CONSUL GENERAL'S MEETING, POLOFF 
VISITED THE EXCAVATION SITE AND WALKED DOWN THE ORIGINAL 
EARTHEN AND WOODEN RAMPS. (DIGITAL PICTURES NEA/IPA.)  THERE 
WAS A SIGNIFICANT ISRAELI POLICE PRESENCE SURROUNDING THE 
EXCAVATION SITE, AND POLOFF OBSERVED THAT HUSSEINI WAS 
PREVENTED FROM EXITING THE HARAM/TEMPLE MOUNT VIA THE 
MUGHRABI GATE. PER REF A, THE PLANNED NEW RAMP WOULD REPLACE 
THE WOODEN STRUCTURE BUILT IN FEBRUARY OF 2005 AFTER 
TORRENTIAL RAINS COLLAPSED PART OF THE EARTHEN RAMP.  IT 
WOULD BE 200 METERS LONG AND WOULD EXTEND FROM THE MUGHRABI 
GATE TO NEAR THE DUNG GATE. 
 
¶5. (C)  DANNY SEIDEMANN, FOUNDER OF THE ISRAELI HUMAN RIGHTS 
NGO IR AMIN, TOLD POLOFF FEBRUARY 8 THAT HE EXPECTED A RULING 
FROM ATTORNEY GENERAL MENACHEM MAZUZ ON HIS APPEAL TO STOP 
THE EXCAVATIONS ON FEBRUARY 11.  SEIDEMANN SAID THE BUILDING 
PERMIT FOR THE MUGHRABI GATE RAMP WAS GRANTED ILLEGALLY AND 
THAT HE WROTE MAZUZ ASKING THAT THE EXCAVATION AND 
CONSTRUCTION BE STOPPED. THE GOI AGREED FEBRUARY 8 TO HALT 
EXCAVATIONS FOR TWO DAYS (REFTEL B), AND HUSSEINI CONFIRMED 
THAT NO WORK WAS ONGOING FEBRUARY 9. HE SAID TWO OF THE FOUR 
BULLDOZERS HAD BEEN REMOVED FROM THE SITE, AND THE REMAINING 
TWO WERE MOVED SLIGHTLY OFF OF THE ORIGINAL RAMP. HE HAS 
DESIGNATED A WAQF EMPLOYEE TO MONITOR THE RAMP FOR SIGNS OF 
RENEWED WORK. 
 
 
¶6. (C) COMMENT: POLOFF (WHO HAS A GRADUATE DEGREE IN 
ARCHAEOLOGY) OBSERVED THAT THE EXCAVATIONS MAY AFFECT THE 
STABILITY OF THAT PORTION OF THE HARAM/TEMPLE MOUNT WALL. 
PRIOR TO 1967, THE WALL WAS EFFECTIVELY BRACED BY THE HOMES 
OF THE MOROCCAN QUARTER, WHICH THE ISRAELIS DESTROYED IN 1967 
TO CREATE THE WESTERN WALL PLAZA, AND BY THE EARTH THAT 
ACCUMULATED OVER THIRTEEN CENTURIES TO THE LEVEL OF THE 
MUGHRABI GATE IN THE AREA BETWEEN THE SOUTHERN EDGE OF THE 
MOROCCAN QUARTER AND THE OLD CITY WALL.  MOST OF THE SOIL AT 
THE SOUTHERN END WAS REMOVED IN THE YEARS FOLLOWING 1967 TO 
EXPOSE ARCHAEOLOGICAL REMAINS OF FIVE 8TH CENTURY STRUCTURES 
TO CREATE AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK NEXT TO THE HARAM/TEMPLE 
MOUNT. A SMALL AMOUNT OF EARTH WAS LEFT IN PLACE TO FORM THE 
75-METER LONG RAMP TO THE MUGHRABI GATE AND THAT EARTH LIKELY 
AT LEAST PARTIALLY SUPPORTS THE WALL. EXCAVATIONS IN 
PREPARATION FOR A NEW RAMP WOULD REMOVE THAT EARTH. 
 
WALLES