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Experts fix bulging wall at Jerusalem sacred site

Jordanian experts have completed a yearlong renovation project on the southern wall of Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque compound to fix a bulge caused by centuries of erosion, the minister of religious affairs said.

The Jordanian minister, Ahmad Helayel, told the official Petra news agency on Monday that the restoration of 2,700 square feet of wall had cost $140,000.

The Al Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, is built on the ruins of the biblical Jewish temples and is sacred to both religions. Muslims worship at the southern wall, while Jews pray around the corner at the western wall.

The damage to the site had stirred controversy.

Israel had said it was caused by renovation work of the Islamic Trust, which oversees the compound, while Palestinians had blamed Israeli excavations at the base of the wall.

Israeli archaeologists had warned that the bulge could cause the wall to topple, but the Jordanian architect in charge of the renovation said that was never a possibility.

Helayel said Jordan's Reconstruction of Al Aqsa Mosque Committee would next renovate the mosque's eastern wall and rebuild the Saladin pulpit, which burned down in 1969. The committee was formed in 1954, when Jordan ruled the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

_ Wire reports