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Israeli Supreme Court to hear petition on excavations under Muslim Quarter

Israel's Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, has agreed to hear a petition on why sensitive excavations taking place under Jerusalem's Muslim Quartet have been declared a holy site for Jews only, and not for Muslims or Christians.

The petition was filed by Emek Shaveh, "a group of archaeologists seeking to prevent the politicisation of archaeology", and came in response to a statement by a Religious Services Ministry legal adviser, who said the tunnels were "governed by the regulations preserving Jewish holy sites."

The petition notes that "the tunnels run through, under, over and alongside religious sites holy to Judaism, Islam and Christianity."

In a statement, Emek Shaveh said "the decision to sanctify the underground city being excavated solely for the Jewish faith means sanctifying structures for Judaism from various periods, from the Second Temple period through structures from the Roman-pagan, Byzantine, Crusader, Mamluk and Ottoman periods", adding: "All this is happening undisturbed under the homes of residents of the Muslim Quarter."

The Supreme Court said the petition would be heard on 1 February, and that the state must submit its response two weeks before.

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