Bush Administration Asked to Call for Halt to Israeli Dig in Jerusalem

AAI Concerned by Israeli Dig in Jerusalem; Calls on Bush Administration to Call for a Halt to Construction Activity

WASHINGTON - Feb. 9, 2007 - The Arab American Institute (AAI) is concerned about ongoing Israeli building activity near the Noble Sanctuary (Temple Mount) compound in Jerusalem and calls on the Bush Administration to request a halt to the work.

The compound, where the Dome of the Rock shrine and al-Aqsa Mosque sit, are one of the holiest places in the Islamic world. Muslims throughout the region have expressed concern that ongoing Israeli work could damage or weaken the foundation of these shrines.

Israeli actions have caused great consternation and protests throughout the Arab World. Given the historical and religious importance of the site to both Jews and Muslims, it is important that Israeli authorities halt the work and consult to develop a plan that is acceptable to leaders of both religious establishments.

“Israel’s last two forays into this area have caused violence and cost lives. Accordingly, they should have known that protests would occur,” said AAI President James Zogby. “Given the talks in Mecca, which have now reached a successful conclusion, one must ask why the Israelis chose this particular time to create what is obviously a provocation. With the stakes so high, the U.S. should act forcefully and call upon the Israelis to suspend further activity.”

About the Arab American Institute:  Founded in 1985, the Arab American Institute (AAI) is a nonprofit organization committed to the civic and political empowerment of Americans of Arab descent.  AAI provides policy, research and public affairs services to support a broad range of community activities. For more information on AAI, please visit http://www.aaiusa.org or call 202-429-9210.