By The Associated Press
Israeli excavations near the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem sparked angry reactions on Monday from Egyptian parliament members, including one who said only a nuclear bomb could stop Israel.
The excavations, which aim to salvage artefacts before construction of a pedestrian bridge leading to the complex also sacred to Jews, have angered many Muslims who fear the work will harm the foundations of al-Aqsa mosque. Israel says the holy places will not be harmed.
"That cursed Israel is trying to destroy al-Aqsa mosque," Mohammed el-Katatny of President Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP) told a heated parliament session held to discuss the Israeli digging.
"Nothing will work with Israel except for a nuclear bomb that wipes it out of existence," he said.
Egypt was the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, but many Egyptians still regard Israel as an enemy because of its continued conflict with Palestinians.
Several Egyptian lawmakers at Monday's session called on the government to abolish all agreements with Israel, but the house has little say in national security issues or foreign policy, ultimately dictated by Mubarak who has rejected similar calls in the past.
"The war with Israel is still ongoing whether we like it or not," NDP lawmaker Khalifa Radwan said.
Mohamed Amer, another ruling party member, said: "What this [Israeli] gang is doing makes me demand that we trample over all the agreements we signed."
Israeli authorities said on Monday they would reconsider the planned construction work near the mosque in response to Muslim protests but would continue to search for ancient artefacts in the area.
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