Compromise will preserve Prague Jewish cemetery

As a result of Wednesday's decision, the remains of several hundred Jews will remain undisturbed underneath an office building being built by a Czech insurance company, Ceska pojistovna.

The remains are to be surrounded by concrete covering an area about 40 yards in length, 10 yards wide and 1 yard high. Construction work that was halted several months ago will be permitted to continue around the site, which forms part of a cemetery relinquished by the local Jewish community in the late 15th century.

Given the possibility that the burial site is part of a larger cemetery, the Czech government will also declare a large area around the new building a national heritage site, which will block any further construction in the area.

Up to 160 other remains removed previously from the cemetery for anthropological research are expected to be returned in a matter of days, once technical preparations are completed. According to the insurance company, those preparations could be finished in a matter of days.

The burial site is not Prague's famous Old Jewish Cemetery, a separate site that lies within the walls of the city's Jewish Quarter.

Dostal said the government would pay up to $1.2 million toward the cost of modifying the building project and suggested that international Jewish organizations may also be approached to contribute toward the costs, whose total has not yet been determined.

Tomas Kraus, chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic, was satisfied with the decision. "I very much appreciate how all the parties behaved on this issue," he said.