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UNESCO slams Israeli digs in East Jerusalem

Israeli officials deplored UNESCO’s condemnation of Israeli archaeological activity in Jerusalem’s Old City.

00The archaeological dig at City of David, with Silwan behind it [Credit: Olivier Fitoussi]

At a meeting this week in Bonn, Germany, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee voted 13-2, with five abstentions, to keep the Old City on its list of endangered World Heritage sites.

It condemned the “persistence of the Israeli illegal excavations” in the Old City and a series of Israeli initiatives outside it, including the Jerusalem light rail line that runs near the Old City walls, the City of David archaeological site in Silwan and an elevator at the Western Wall, which UNESCO said severely affects the “visual integrity and the authentic character of the site.”

UNESCO is the United Nations’ education, cultural and scientific organization. Dore Gold, the director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, condemned the committee’s decision as a one-sided resolution and noted its failure to cite any Jewish connection to Jerusalem, referring to the Temple Mount area only as a “Muslim holy site of worship.”


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