Jon Dougherty, of, reports that an Israeli organization has made plans to ?lay and anoint? two 4.5-ton blocks of marble as cornerstones for the ?Third Temple of Israel.? The Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement says the event is being planned for Oct. 4 at 9:30 a.m. local time in Israel. The event has the blessing of the Israeli government, which has pledged to protect event organizers and participants.

As part of organizing a coalition of countries to fight against Muslim fundamentalist terrorism, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has been trying to encourage peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. Islamic countries are expected to be more likely to work with the U.S. if they feel we are not strongly pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian in the Middle East. This new move by Orthodox Jews may shatter the fragile peace accords that the U.S. is trying to build in the area.

Efforts last October by the group to lay the cornerstones of the Third Temple were stopped by officials due to the potential for further violence in the war-torn region. In biblical times, the people of Israel worshipped at the temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed by enemies. It was rebuilt, then destroyed again in 70 AD by the Roman Empire.

The event is seen as a threat by Muslims, since the site of the new temple, the Temple Mount, is also the location of the Dome of the Rock, an important Muslim mosque. Conquering peoples have often build their places of worship on top of the sacred places of the people they have invaded. Some Israelis believe that before construction of the temple can begin, the Dome of the Rock must first be torn down. Others believe the temple can be built next to the Muslim shrine.

Arabs say any effort to rebuild the temple would amount to a ?grave provocation.? In its ?Vision of Redemption,? the Temple Mount Faithful Movement states its belief that the creation of the modern state of Israel is ?the beginning of the redemption of the world,? which will be completed with the building of the Third Temple. The group plans to transport the marble cornerstones, which will be covered with Israeli flags, to the Temple Mount on a flatbed truck. Participants will also bring ?reconstructed vessels for the Third Temple,? a priest in original garments, and musicians, ?recreating historical temple activities.?

Group members and participants plan to gather at the Western Wall plaza, where the Wailing Wall is located. This wall is all that remains of the second Jewish temple. From there, participants will march to the Temple Mount. In the past, members of the group have been allowed to go to the Temple Mount as individuals, but it?s doubtful that the group?s actions will be tolerated by the Palestinians.

In July, Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., introduced a measure that would halt all U.S. monetary assistance to the Palestinian Authority until excavation of the Temple Mount, which is being undertaken by Yasser Arafat, is stopped. Two weeks before introducing his bill, Cantor returned from a trip to Israel, where he says he met with individuals and government officials who gave him reports of the destruction.

According to Cantor, Arafat has permitted large-scale bulldozing and destruction of the Temple Mount antiquities beginning in early 1998. Since then, thousands of tons of fill have been unearthed and dumped into the nearby Kidron Valley. Archeologists have verified that these artifacts date from the period of the First Temple, from 1006 B.C. to 586 B.C.

Cantor has photos of the Temple Mount area that he says ?depict bulldozers crushing evidence of the religious site and new construction masking any trace of the temple. Anybody with any reasonable perspective would hold that the Temple Mount should be preserved and any disturbance thereon closely monitored. But now, there are bulldozers and stone-cutting machines hacking away every day,? he says.

Cantor says that Arafat ?has devoted the past 33 years to an extensive campaign of excavation, systematically destroying any evidence of Jewish and Christian presence on the Temple Mount, so that they could argue ? as they now do ? that it has always been an exclusively Muslim place.?

Cantor says, ?The bottom line is, Chairman Arafat?s intent is to deny access to the Temple Mount for any individuals other than followers of Islam. In addition, the evidence produced today clearly shows that Arafat is intent on erasing Judeo-Christian connections to the holy site.? He quotes Sheik Ikrima Sabri as saying, ?The Temple Mount was never there. ? There is not one bit of proof to establish that. We do not recognize that the Jews have any right to the wall or to one inch of the sanctuary. ? Jews are greedy to control our mosque. ? If they every try to, it will be the end of Israel.?

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