Israel plans to build a new pedestrian ramp to the complex and says it wants to ensure the renovation work does not come at the expense of important artifacts. Such exploratory digs are common practice in the ancient city.
The ramp will replace a centuries-old walkway that was damaged in a snowstorm three years ago.
"The construction of the bridge, located in its entirety outside the Temple Mount, has no impact on the Mount itself and certainly poses no danger to it," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said.
Yuval Baruch, Israel's chief archaeologist for the Jerusalem region, told Israel Radio Tuesday that the work was between 60 to 70 yards from the site, and that there was "no intention of getting close to the Temple Mount."
"We invite everyone to come see. We are working under the open sky and have nothing to hide. We won't do anything secretly or in the dark," Baruch said.
Arabs are seething that this path is a secret attempt by the Israelis to destroy the Temple Mount. Nevermind the Wafk organization has destroyed Solomon's Stables inside the Temple Mount to build an underground mosque that can house 10,000 worshippers and dumped the rubble outside Jerusalem without letting archeologists surpervise things.
I must say the irony is rich. Israel wants to fix a path because it is dangerous and all the nutcases, even Haaretz, think its a sinister plot to destroy the Noble Sanctuary.