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Israeli map erases prominent Palestinian village in Jerusalem

A new tourist map of Jerusalem's Old City has erased the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan.

The new publication is, however, believed to be a significant improvement from the old version of the map, which was heavily criticised for promoting an Israeli-settler narrative of the Old City and its environs and failed to locate important holy sites for Christian and Muslim visitors, including Al-Aqsa Mosque. Instead most of the labelled sites were of little interest to tourists, including yeshivas, or centres for the study of the Torah, and buildings managed by radical Jewish settler organisations.

The new version recently released by Israel's tourism ministry, enlarges some of the key holy sites that are a major attraction to millions visiting the city each year.

Al Jazeera reported Jubran, a tour guide who has worked in Israel and the Palestinian territories since 1999, saying: "You have all the Christian sites, all the Muslim sites – they are even avoiding the controversial words like Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif, which I think is good."

He added that the new map is a "huge improvement".

The old version, released earlier this year, was heavily criticised for promoting an Israeli-settler narrative of the Old City [Nigel Wilson/Al Jazeera]

The old version, released earlier this year, was heavily criticised for promoting an Israeli-settler narrative of the Old City [Nigel Wilson/Al Jazeera]

"It is more inclusive … I doubt any Palestinian guide would willingly give the old map to tourists," he added. "It lists sites that Palestinians consider settlements."

The updated map removed sites associated with right-wing settler organisations such as Ateret Cohanim, which aims to replace Palestinian residents of the city with Jewish settlers.

Israel's tourism ministry told Al Jazeera that it had run out of stock of the old map and began to distribute the new one instead without acknowledging any problem with the old version.

The new version has nevertheless come under criticism. Israeli human rights NGO, Ir Amim, which gives tours of occupied East Jerusalem, said that the representation of the City of David Park is still problematic.

The updated map highlights sites such as Al-Aqsa Mosque, while removing sites associated with right-wing settler organisations [Nigel Wilson/Al Jazeera]

The updated map highlights sites such as Al-Aqsa Mosque, while removing sites associated with right-wing settler organisations [Nigel Wilson/Al Jazeera]

While the park is part of Israel's national parks network, the daily management of the site has been contracted out to a private organisation helping to take over Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem to settle Jewish families in their place.

"What is most egregious is the omission of Silwan, because there is just empty space where Silwan is. It makes it look as though they have eradicated the neighbourhood, supplanting it with City of David, which is a settler-run tourist site," Betty Herschman, the director of international relations and advocacy at Ir Amim, told Al Jazeera.

"It literally obscures the fact that the park is located in a Palestinian neighbourhood. It not only erases their narrative, but obscures their very existence."

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IsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestine
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