Israel approves disputed E. Jerusalem archeology project

Israel granted approval to the project on grounds that it will showcase important archaeological discoveries to the public

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Israel has approved a controversial archaeology project in annexed east Jerusalem, Agence France-Presse reported the interior ministry as saying on Friday, in a move likely to compound tensions threatening to scupper peace talks with the Palestinians.

The ministry “heard objections” from Palestinians and residents on building visitor’s center just outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls in the Arab neighborhood of Silwan, it said in a statement.

However it granted approval to the project on grounds that it “will show important archaeological discoveries to the public.”

Last month, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported that several ancient archeological sites were “destroyed” after the Israeli Antiquities Authority conducted controversial digs in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

The West Bank and East Jerusalem are part of the Palestinian territories, which have been internationally recognized since 1967.

The dig reportedly destroyed a cemetery that dated back to the Abbasid caliphate and damaged relics that date back to the Jebusite Canaanite era in the second millennium BC, Maan reported the Palestinian al-Aqsa Foundation as saying.

Ir David Foundation, commonly known as Elad, is funding the excavations as part of a plan to build a seven-story building which will serve as a Jewish cultural center, the Palestinian foundation said in a statement.

The Israeli project reportedly includes building a biblical park in the area, alongside the City of David archaeological park, and will feature a “museum of Jewish history” and a “Jewish national park.”

(With AFP)

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