The Arab League on Monday condemned a U.S. diplomatic contingent for taking part in a ceremony unveiling an ancient Jewish road in Jerusalem the day before, according to the Palestinian Authority’s official Wafa news agency.
Saeed Abu Ali, the Arab League Assistant Secretary-General for Palestine and Occupied Arab Lands, issued a statement saying “the participation of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, at the inauguration of the tunnel proves the American administration’s absolute bias and full adoption of these settlement projects in violation of international consensus and legitimacy.”
Abu Ali referred to the Sunday inauguration of the Pilgrimage Road, a 2,000-year-old, 600-meter-long pathway from the Shiloah ritual immersion pool in what the historian Josephus called “Lower Jerusalem” all the way to the Temple Mount.
The now-subterranean road, located beneath the primarily Arab eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, was uncovered by the Israeli Antiquities Authority in a painstaking six-year excavation, and renovated in partnership with the City of David Foundation, which maintains an archaeological park nearby dedicated to teaching about the long Jewish history in the area.
In his statement, Abu Ali said the archaeological excavation constitutes a violation of international law and is in contravention of a declaration by UNESCO that Jerusalem is an occupied city which is heritage site exclusively for Islam, according to Wafa news.
In a letter to the head of the Arab League, PLO Executive Committee Secretary Saeb Erekat called on the organization to thwart international support for “the criminal settlement project in Jerusalem,” calling it “an attempt to erase Arab Palestinian Christian and Islamic historical identity and wipe out the Palestinian presence in [the city].”