Senior U.S. officials were on hand in Jerusalem Sunday for the opening of part of what is believed to be an ancient Roman-era road to the Jewish temple, angering Palestinians and some Israeli historians.
Ambassador David Friedman, Mideast peace negotiator Jason Greenblatt, and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham attended the unveiling.
The City of David Foundation, which organized Sunday’s ceremony, says visitors will now be able to “touch history” and walk the 300-meter-long portion of the road through a tunnel, uphill to where the Jewish temple stood more than 2,000 years ago in what is now east Jerusalem.
“Were there ever any doubts about the accuracy, the wisdom, the propriety of President Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, I certainly think this lays all doubts to rest,” Friedman said.
Work on the project was carried out in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. The Palestinian Authority condemned the project as another example of pushing the Palestinians out of Jerusalem.
“The Israeli occupation is trying to legalize colonial practices in Jerusalem by using a religious cover. Friedman and Greenblatt are ready to fake history for this colonial purpose,” it said.
A group of Israelis who oppose what they call the politicization of archeology also said it resented the American officials being at Sunday’s event, calling it “a political act, which is the closest the U.S. will have come to recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem.”
Greenblatt dismissed the criticism, as “ludicrous,” tweeting: “We can’t “Judaize’ what history/archeology show. We can acknowledge it and you can stop pretending it isn’t true. Peace can only be built on truth.”
Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.