US envoys attended the inauguration of a Jewish heritage site in eastern Jerusalem on Sunday, signaling support for Israel’s hold over parts of the city that Palestinians want for a future state.
Palestinians — who view the heritage project and Jewish settlement activities in the Silwan district as moves by Israel to further cement control over areas it captured in the 1967 Six Day War — called the US presence at the event a hostile act.
Two of Trump’s top Middle East advisers — peace envoy Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador to Israel David Friedman — came to the opening of an excavated road that archaeologists say was used by Jewish pilgrims to Jerusalem two millennia ago.
The “Pilgrims’ Road” site is part of the City of David, an open-air Jewish archaeological attraction open to the public and built within the eastern Jerusalem district of Silwan.
Israel captured Silwan and neighboring districts in the 1967 conflict, annexed and settled them, angering foreign powers that back the Palestinians’ goal of building a capital there for a future state including the disputed West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“Some people, not necessarily friends of ours, are obsessing about my being here,” Friedman said at the ceremony, adding the excavation project uncovered “the truth, whether you believe or not … the truth is the only foundation upon which peace will come to this area.”
After his speech, Friedman, along with Greenblatt, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara, and donors to the project, wielded hammers to break through a wall and open the subterranean path to the holy site revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.
In a statement, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it “views the American attendance at and celebration of the Judaisation activities in occupied East Jerusalem as hostile acts against the Palestinians.”
“The administration of President Donald Trump proves day by day its … unlimited affiliation to the colonial settlement project led by the extremist right in the state of the occupation (Israel),” it said.
Reuters and Algemeiner Staff