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Palestinian anger at US participation in tunnel opening

July 1, 2019 at 10:21 am

The Secretary-General of the PLO Executive Committee has slammed US officials’ participation in the opening of a tunnel from the village of Silwan to the Old City of occupied Jerusalem.

“I hope all the world, including Americans can see this,” wrote Saeb Erekat on Twitter. ”That is not a US Ambassador, that is an extremist Israeli settler, with Greenblatt, also there, digging underneath Silwan, a Palestinian town.”

Reports in Israeli media said that the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, as well as Donald Trump’s envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham attended the opening of the tunnel. Friedman, apparently, wielded a hammer to break down some of the bricks. The Times of Israel reported a PLO official condemning such participation as a “war crime”.

READ: US envoys lend a hand as Israel digs down in east Jerusalem 

The tunnel opening was organised by the City of David Foundation. Visitors, it said, will now be able to “touch history” and walk the 300-metre portion of the so-called “Pilgrims’ Road”.

According to Friedman, “Were there ever any doubts about the accuracy, the wisdom, the propriety of President Trump recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, I certainly think this lays all doubts to rest.”

In response, the Palestinian Authority said that the Israeli occupation authorities are trying to legalise colonial practices in Jerusalem by using a religious cover. “Friedman and Greenblatt are ready to fake history for this colonial purpose.”

Such participation by American officials in the inauguration was, an Israeli expert on Jerusalem affairs told Haaretz, “unprecedented,” but it was “not surprising” because of the ideological similarity between the Israeli right wing and the US President. The Israeli newspaper doubted the credibility of the alleged history of the tunnel and pointed out that two Israeli archaeologists said that digging this tunnel went against the ethics of their profession.