US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman (L) and White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt break down a wall in front of the newly excavated Pilgrimage Road in Jerusalem, June 30, 2019. (Youtube/Screenshot) (Youtube/Screenshot)
Greenblatt Friedman Jerusalem

The Palestinian Authority continues to deny the ancient Jewish connection to Jerusalem and condemns the US for helping “Judaize” the holy city.

By Nan Jacques Zilberdik, Palestinian Media Watch

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, US Envoy Jason Greenblatt and US Senator Lindsey Graham took part in the inauguration ceremony last month of the Pilgrimage Road subterranean archaeological site, located south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The excavated road was used by Jewish pilgrims visiting the Second Temple around the first century CE, and the Arab neighborhood of Silwan has since been built above it.

The PA called the opening of the ancient road an act of “Judaization,” and PA Chairman Abbas repeated the PA libel that Israel works to “change Jerusalem’s Arab characteristics”:

“[PA] President Abbas explained to his Russian colleague [President Vladimir Putin] about the crisis in the relations with Israel, and also about the daily violations, the latest of which was the excavation of a tunnel in order to change Jerusalem’s Arab characteristics.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 13, 2019]

Senior PA officials used the opportunity to criticize and condemn the American officials present at the opening. Abbas’ advisor on religious affairs and Islamic relations, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, accused Friedman and the other US officials of “piracy” and repeated the PA’s denial of any Jewish historical presence ever in Jerusalem, claiming that it is “an Arab, Palestinian, and Islamic city”:

“He [Al-Habbash] emphasized that [Friedman’s] actions constitute piracy and a blatant attack against international law, which considers Jerusalem an occupied city and a purely Islamic heritage [site]… Al-Habbash said that the colonialist acts of Trump’s administration and its representatives – led by settler Friedman – in Jerusalem… will not change the historical and religious truth regarding the city, as it is an Arab, Palestinian, and Islamic city – it was and will remain such until Allah inherits the earth and its inhabitants. He noted that the plots of the occupation state, and behind it the colonialist administration that controls the White House, will not succeed in Judaizing the city or changing its Islamic and Palestinian character.” [WAFA, official PA news agency, June 30 2019]

Al-Habbash added that Friedman is like an extremist and racist settler:

“Friedman’s activities are as far as possible from diplomacy, as he is behaving like an extremist settler who is controlled by racist ideas against all people, and not only against the Palestinian people.”

A Fatah official and regular columnist for the official PA daily, Muwaffaq Matar, likewise described Ambassador Friedman as a “colonialist” and stated that while “destroying” Palestinian “heritage,” Friedman looked “extremely happy, like criminals enjoying their crimes and the sight of their victims suffering”:

“American colonialist David Friedman, Trump’s Ambassador to the racist Tel Aviv regime… This racist knows that with his hammer he is destroying an international global system that is striving to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the nation of people… he looks extremely happy, like criminals enjoying their crimes and the sight of their victims suffering.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 3, 2019]

The PLO’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat also accused Friedman and Greenblatt of being “settlers” and called them a “threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque”:

“PLO Executive Committee Secretary Saeb Erekat said: ‘I ask the entire world, including the American people, to watch the settler Friedman and the settler Greenblatt next to him as they dig under the Palestinian town of Silwan. He cannot be the ambassador of the US; he is the chairman of the settlement council. Those who were present at the workshop in Manama [in Bahrain] need to watch [them] in order to see the prosperity of the settlement enterprise and the threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.'” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 1, 2019]

PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh stated that the PA government condemned “the settlement activities in Jerusalem” and Friedman’s participation in them:

“[PA] Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh said: ‘We condemn the settlement activities in occupied Jerusalem and the participation of American Ambassador [to Israel David] Friedman in one of these activities: the excavation of a tunnel under the town of Silwan. This behavior reflects this [American] administration’s full support for the right-wing government of Israel, its settlement policy, and its violation of international agreements and law.'” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 2, 2019]

Palestinian cartoon David Friedman

(Al-Hayat Al-Jadida via PMW)

The cartoon above shows US Ambassador Friedman dressed as a construction worker holding a shovel in one hand and a hammer with a briefcase as its head in the other.

Text on cartoon in Arabic: “Laborers of Israel [US Ambassador to Israel] David Friedman”

Text on cartoon in English: “David Friedman” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 2, 2019]

An op-ed in the official PA daily similarly accused Washington of “Judaizing occupied Jerusalem with its own hands, through [US] Ambassador [to Israel David] Friedman’s hammer.” The writer stated that Friedman’s participation was an “attack” on the Al-Aqsa Mosque:

“Friedman’s going into the field in order to destroy the foundations of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem’s historical and cultural foundation with his own hands constitutes an attack on the holy sites, which demands a direct response with all means.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 2, 2019]

Another regular writer for the official PA daily, Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul, called the American participation in the opening of the Pilgrimage Road a “scandalous crime” and “American aggression,” and called for putting the US officials on trial – everywhere: in a Palestinian court, an American court, and the International Criminal Court:

“The latest scandalous crime that Ambassador of Trump’s administration in Israel Friedman and President Trump’s advisor Greenblatt committed against the Palestinian rights and interests in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Palestine… was participation… in the inauguration of a tunnel for the Israeli settlers, which is called ‘the Pilgrimage Road’…This direct American aggression… necessitates the concerned bodies to act as follows:

– To sue Greenblatt and Friedman in a Palestinian court and issue an arrest warrant against the two of them for a direct and scandalous assault on the Palestinian rights.

– To turn to the American legal system and submit a lawsuit against the two of them.

– To turn to the International Criminal Court and put the two of them on trial for the crime that they have committed.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 2, 2019]

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