Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Olmert Vows to Press On With Dig

JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has spurned an appeal from his defense minister to halt excavation work near Jerusalem's most important holy site, the Haaretz daily said Thursday.

Tensions have flared between Israel and the Palestinians over the start of an Israeli excavation near a compound housing the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Islam's third-holiest site.

Arab states have asked Israel to halt the work, which began Tuesday, saying it could damage the mosque's foundations. Palestinians said a cease-fire in Gaza with the Jewish state might unravel if the work continued.

"A thorough examination of the matter would reveal that nothing about the work under way will harm anyone, and there is no truth in the contentions against the work," the newspaper quoted Olmert's office as saying in rejecting a written appeal from Defense Minister Amir Peretz.

The Defense Ministry did not immediately comment on the report and Olmert's office was not available for a response.