Trump Envoys Help Unveil Ancient Jewish Jerusalem Road

US Ambassador to David Friedman (L) speaks with White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt during the opening of an ancient road at the City of David archaeological and tourist site in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan in east Jerusalem on June 30, 2019. - White House adviser Jason Greenblatt …
TSAFRIR ABAYOV/AFP/Getty

TEL AVIV – U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt on Sunday hammered through a wall at the inauguration of a 2,000-year-old archaeological site not far from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

“Whether there was ever any doubt 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 at the event.

Friedman and Greenblatt symbolically broke down the wall leading to the City of David’s “Pilgrimage Road,” considered to have been a main thoroughfare for Jews ascending the Temple Mount. The two were joined at the inauguration by ministers Rafi Peretz and Uri Ariel, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, former Jerusalem mayor and current Likud MK Nir Barkat, the US ambassadors to Portugal, France, and Denmark, Israel Antiquities Authority director Israel Hasson, and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam.

The event angered both the Palestinian Authority and left-wing Israeli NGOs because the site runs under the mostly Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. Israeli left-wing group Emek Shaveh argued that the site’s location in eastern Jerusalem politicized the excavation.

“It is inexcusable to ignore the Palestinian residents of Silwan, carrying out extensive excavations of an underground city and to use such excavations as part of an effort to tell a historical story that is exclusively Jewish in a 4,000 year-old city with a rich and diverse cultural and religious past,” the NGO said.

Senior PA official Saeb Erekat tweeted that Friedman was himself “an extremist Israeli settler.”

The PA released a statement lambasting the “imperialistic Judaization plans” and the Trump administration for  “fully supporting the imperialistic settlement enterprise led by the far-right in the occupation state.”

Friedman said the site reaffirmed Jerusalem’s centrality to the Jewish people.

“It confirms with evidence, with science, with archaeological studies that which many of us already knew, certainly in our heart: the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jewish people,” he said.

“The spiritual underpinnings of our society, the bedrock of our principles in which we honor the dignity of every human life came from Jerusalem,” he said. “This place is as much a heritage of the US as it is a heritage of Israel.”

Barkat said that the latest archaeological discovery will “hopefully allow the world [to] understand why we will never, never divide the city of Jerusalem.”

The dovish Peace Now NGO also slammed the excavation of what they called “the controversy tunnel,” saying it had led to “increased tensions between Palestinian residents and Jewish settlers, who have been acting more intensively than ever in recent years to Judaize the neighborhood, as part of an effort to sabotage the two-state solution.”

Greenblatt rejected all criticism as “ludicrous.”

The Mideast envoy blasted Emek Shaveh’s description of the archaeological dig as shaping history.

“Archaeologists don’t ‘shape [a] historic landscape.’ They study human history thru excavation of sites & analysis of artifacts/physical remains,” he wrote on Twitter. “We can acknowledge it; you can stop pretending it isn’t true! Peace can only be built on truth.”

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