Middle East

Israel allows divisive East Jerusalem dig

Palestinian children play near graffiti in Jerusalem's Old City April 4, 2014. (REUTERS/Amir Cohen)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel has approved a controversial archaeology project in occupied East Jerusalem, the Interior Ministry said Friday, in a move likely to compound tensions threatening to scupper peace talks.

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

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

The so-called Kedem complex is to be built on a plot of land currently being used as a car park opposite the Dung Gate, the main entrance to the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.

It will be managed by Elad, a hard-line settler organization that seeks to increase Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem and runs the nearby City of David archaeological site.

The Silwan neighborhood is already home to dozens of Jewish settler families who live under heavy guard among their Arab neighbors.

Arab residents charge that the new visitor center fails to take account of their needs and is an attempt to further strengthen the Jewish presence in Silwan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 05, 2014, on page 12.




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